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CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS 
DOWAGER 



CHINA UNDER THE 
EMPRESS DOWAGER 



BEING THE HISTORY OF THE LIFE AND 
TIMES OF TZtJ HSI 

COMPILED FROM STATE PAPERS AND THE 

PRIVATE DIARY OF THE COMPTROLLER OF 

HER HOUSEHOLD 



BY 

T. O. P. BLAND AND E. BACKHOUSE 



ILLUSTRATED 



PHILADELPHIA 



J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

London : WILLIAM HEINEMANN 



MCMX 



.s^^^*" 



3V 



Printed in England 

/ // 



NOTE 

The thanks of the Authors are hereby gratefully 
expressed to Miss Katharine A. Carl, for permission to 
reproduce the photograph of her portrait of the Empress 
Dowager ; to Mr. K. Ogawa, art publisher of Tokyo, 
for the use of his unique pictures of the Palace at 
Peking ; to Mr. Geo. Bronson Rea, of the Far Eastern 
Review^ for permission to reproduce illustrations originally 
published in that journal ; to Messrs. Betines, of Peking, 
for the right to publish their views of the capital ; and 
to the Editor of The Times, for his courtesy in permitting 
the inclusion in this volume of certain articles written 
for that paper. 

London, September 10th, 1910. 




The "Holy Mother," Her Majesty Tzu Hsi. 
(From a Photograph taken in 1903.) 



CONTENTS 



i- PAOE 

THE PARENTAGE AND YOUTH OP YEHONALA J 

II 
THE PLIGHT TO JEHOL . 14 

III 
THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 30 

IV 
THE FIRST REGENCY 51 

V 

TSENG KUO-FAN AND THE TAIPING REBELLION (1864) .... 64 

TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 81 

VII 

A QUESTION OP ETIQUETTE 110 

VIII 

MAJORITY AND DEATH OP THE EMPEROR T'UNG-CHIH . . . . 117 

IX 

THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OP WU k'O-TU 132 

X 

TZU HSI BECOMES SOLE REGENT 148 

XI 

TZU HSI "en retraite" 161 

XII 
THE REPORM movement OP 1898 178 

XIII 

THE HUNDRED DAYS OP REPORM 190 

vii 



CONTENTS 

-A-i V PAGE 

THK 00 UP D-^T AT OF 1898 201 

XV 

TZU HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 211 

XYI 

THE GENESIS OF THE BOXER MOVEMENT 246 

XVII 

THE DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN . . . . . .251 

XVIII 

IN MEMORY OP TWO BRAVE MEN 307 

XIX 

SIDELIGHTS ON TZU JISl's STATECRAFT 327 

XX ' ~ 

THE FLIGHT FROM PEKIN AND THE COURT IN EXILE . . . . 340 

XXI 

HOW THE BOXER LEADERS DIED 363 

XXII 

THE OLD BUDDHA PENITENT ■ . . .375 

XXIII 

THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 387 

XXIV 

^ HER majesty's NEW POLICY 417 

XXV 

THE VALEDICTORY MEMORIAL OF JUNG LU 436 

XXVI 

HER majesty's LAST DAYS * ,443 

XXVII 

TZU HSI's DEATH AND BURIAL 464 

XXVIII 
CONCLUSION 476 

APPENDIX . . . . . . . . , . . , 499 

INDEX 517 



VIU 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

THE "holy mother," HER MAJESTY Tzu HSi . . Frontispiece 

MAP OF PEKING xii, xiii 

THE REGENT PRINCE CH'uN, WITH HIS TWO SONS, THE PRESENT 

EMPEROR (standing) AND PRINCE p'u CHIEH . . . .4 

THE IMPERIAL DAIS IN THE CHIAO-TAL HALL 18 

H.I.H. p'u JU, COUSIN OF THE PRESENT EMPEROR, SON OF THE BOXER 

PRINCE TSAI-YING, AND GRANDSON OF PRINCE KUNG . . .20 

HER MAJESTY TZI^ HSI IN THE YEAR 1903 36 

EXTERIOR OF THE CH'iEN CH'iNG PALACE 54 

H.M. TZU HSI, WITH THE CONSORT (lUNG Yu) AND PRINCIPAL CON- 
CUBINE (jEN FEl) OF H.M. KUANG-HSU, ACCOMPANIED BY COURT 
LADIES AND EUNUCHS 90 

FACSIMILE OF LETTER WRITTEN BY CHIEF EUNUCH LI LIEN-YING . 98 

INTERIOR OF THE YANG HSIN TIEN. (PALACE OP " MIND NURTURE.") 122 

INTERIOR OF THE I KUN KUNG 148 

INTERIOR OF THE TAI HO TIEN 166 

CIRCULAR THRONE HALL IN THE GROUNDS OF THE LAKE PALACE 

LOOTED BY ALLIED TROOPS IN 1900 208 

PAVILION ON LAKE TO THE WEST OP FORBIDDEN CITY . . . 208 

THE " BEILEH " TSAI YING, SON OP PRINCE KUNG (CASHIERED BY TZU 

HSI FOR PRO-BOXER PROCLIVITIES), AND HIS SON . . . 252 

H.M. THE EMPRESS DOWAGER AND LADIES OF HER COURT (1903) . 256 

THE TA-A-KO, SON OP PRINCE TUAN, THE BOXER LEADER . . . 280 

ix 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING PAGE 

REPRODUCTION OP PICTURE PAINTED ON SILK BY HER MAJESTY TZU HSI 284 

FACSIMILE OP A FRAGMENT OP THE DIARY 299 

DAUGHTERS OF A HIGH MANCHU OFFICIAL OP THE COURT . . 302 

MARBLE BRIDGE IN THE GROUNDS OF THE LAKE PALACE . . . 350 

IN THE GROUNDS OP THE PALACE IN THE WESTERN PARK . . 350 

HIS HIGHNESS PRINCE TSAI HSUN 386 

VIEW, FROM THE k'uN MING LAKE, OP THE SUMMER PALACE , . 452 

THE EMPRESS DOWAGER, WITH THE CHIEF EUNUCH, LI LIEN-YING . 454 

THE SON OF HEAVEN 458 

MARBLE BRIDGE OVER THE LAKE IN THE WESTERN PARK WHICH 

SURROUNDS THE LAKE PALACE 474 

" TI WANG MIAO " OR TEMPLE TO THE MEMORY OP VIRTUOUS EM- 
PERORS OF PREVIOUS DYNASTIES 474 

PORTRAIT OP THE EMPRESS DOWAGER . . . , . . .482 

THE IMPERIAL DAIS IN THE Ch'iEN Ch'iNG HALL . . . . 498 

CEILING AND PILLARS OP THE TAI HO TIEN . . . , .510 



INDEX TO NUMBERED MAP OF PEKING 



(1) Tung Hua Men, the East Gate Glorious. 

This is the usual entrance to the 
Forbidden City for officials attending 
audience when the Court is there 
resident. (It was here that was sus- 
pended in a basket the head of the 
foreigner captured by the Boxers on 
20th June. ) 

(2) Huang Chi Tien, or Throne Hall of 

Imperial Supremacy. In this Hall the 
Empress Dowager, after the return of 
the Court from exile, was accustomed 
to receive her officials in audience on 
the rare occasions when she lived in 
the Forbidden City. It was here that 
her remains lay for nearly a year 
awaiting the day of burial. 

(3) Ning Shou Kung, or Palace of Peaceful 

Longevity. Here the Old Buddha 
resided during the siege ; here she 
buried her treasure. iShe returned 
hither after the days of exile and 
lived in it pending the restoration of 
the Lake Palace, desecrated by the 
foreign occupation. 

(4) Chien Ching Kung, or Palace of 

Heavenly Purity. The Hall in which 
China's Emperors were accustomed to 
give audience to the Grand Council. 
After the Boxer rising, in accordance 
with the new ceremonial laid down by 
the Peace Protocol, the Diplomatic 
Body were received here. In this 
Hall the Emperor Kuang Hsii dis- 
cussed and decided with K'ang Yu-wei 
the reform programme of 1898, and it 
was here that his body lay awaiting 
sepulture between November 1898 and 
February 1909. 

(5) Shen Wu Men, or Gate of Divine 

Military Genius. Through this, the 
Northern gate of the City, the Old 
Buddha fled in the dawn of the 15th 
August, 1900. 

(6) The Rock-garden in which Her Majesty 

used to walk during the days of the 
siege of the Legations and from which 



she witnessed the burning of the 
Hanlin Academy. 

(7) Yang Hsin Tien, or Throne Hall of 

Mental Growth. In this Palace the 
Emperor T'ung-Chih resided during 
the whole of his reign. 

(8) Hsi Hua Men, or West Gate Glorious. 

One of the main entrances to the 
Forbidden City. 

(9) Tai Ho Tien, Throne Hall of Exalted 

Peace. Used only on occasions of 
High ceremony, such as the accession 
of a new Emperor, an Imperial 
birthday celebration, or the New Year 
ceremonies. 

(10) Shou Huang Tien, or Throne Hall of 

Imperial Longevity. In this building 
the reigning sovereign unrolls on the 
day of the New Year the portraits of 
deceased Emperors, and pays sacrifice 
to them. 

(11) Hsi Yiian Men, Western Park Gate. 

It is through this that the Grand 
Council and other high officials pass to 
audience when the sovereign is in resi- 
dence at the Lake Palace. 

(12) At this gate the Emperor was wont to 

await, humbly kneeling, the arrival of 
the Old Buddha on her way to or from 
the Summer Palace. 

(13) The Altar of Silkworms, at which the 

Empress Consort must sacrifice once 
a year, and where the Old Buddha 
sacrificed on occasion. 

(14) A Lama Temple where the Old Buddha 

frequently worshipped. 

(15) Ta Hsi Tien. The Temple of the 

Great Western Heaven. A famous 
Buddhist shrine built in the reign 
of the Emperor Kang Hsi. 

(16) The Old Catholic Church built within 

the Palace precincts by permission of 
the Emperor Kang-Hsi. It was con- 
verted by the Empress Dowager into a 
Museum in which was kept the 
collection of stuffed birds made by the 
missionary P6re David. Eye-witnesses 



XI 



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INDEX TO NUMBERED MAP OF PEKING 



of the siege of the French Cathedral 
in 1900 have stated that the Empress 
and several of the ladies of the Court 
ascended to the roof of this building 
to watch the attack on the Christians ; 
but it is not likely that they exposed 
themselves for any great length of 
time in what must have been a dan- 
gerous position. 

(17) Tzu Kuang Ko : Throne Hall of Purple 

Effulgence. The building in which the 
Emperor is wont to receive, and 
entertain at a banquet, the Dalai 
and Panshen Lamas and certain 
feudatory chiefs. Before 1900, Foreign 
Envoys were also received here. 

(18) Ching Cheng Tien, or Throne Hall of 

Diligent Government. Used for the 
audiences of the Grand Council when 
the Court was in residence at the Lake 

(19) Li Yiian Tien : Throne Hall of Cere- 

monial Phoenixes. Part of the Em- 
press Dowager's new Palace, built for 
her in the early years of Kuang Hsii's 
reign. Here she received birthday 
congratulations when resident at the 
Lake Palace, and here she gave her 
valedictory audience, just before her 
death. 

(20) Ying Tai, or Ocean Terrace, where the 

Emperor Kuang Hsii was kept under 
close surveillance after the coup d^Hat 
in 1898, and which he never left 
(except on one occasion when he 
attempted to escape) between Sep- 
tember 1898 and March 1900. By 
means of a drawbridge, this Ocean 
Terrace was made a secure place of 
confinement. After the return of the 
Court in 1902, His Majesty lived here 
again, but under less restraint, and it 
was here that he met his death. 

(21) At this point stood the high mound 

which Her Majesty is reported to have 
ascended on the night of 13th June, 
1900, to watch the conflagrations in 
various parts of the city. 

(22) The White Pagoda, built in the time of 

the Yiian dynasty {circa, 1290 a.d.), 
when the artificial lake was also made. 

(23) Wan Shou ssu, the Temple of Imperial 

Longevity. Here the Empress was 
accustomed to sacrifice on her journeys 
to and from the Summer Palace. 

(24) The residence of Ching Shan, where 

the Diarj'^ was written. 

(25) The residence of Wen Lien, Comptroller 

of the Household and friend of Ching 
Shan. 

(26) Residence of Jung Lu. 

(27) Place of the Princess Imperial, the 



daughter of Prince Kung, whom the 
Empress Dowager adopted. 

(28) Birthplace of the present infant Em- 

peror, Hsiian T'ung, son of Prince 
CJh'un and grandson of Jung Lu. In 
accordance with prescribed custom, it 
will be converted into a shrine. 

(29) Birthplace of H.M. • Kuang Hsii. 

Half of this building has been 
converted into a shrine in honour 
of His Majesty, and the other half 
into a memorial temple to the first 
Prince Ch'un, grandfather of the 
present infant Emperor. 

(30) Pewter Lane, where Yehonala was 

born. 

(31) Palace of Duke Chao, younger brother 

of Tzii Hsi. 

(32) Palace of Duke Kuei Hsiang, elder 

brother of Tzu Hsi and father of the 
present Empress Dowager. 

(33) At this point was erected the scafi'olding 

from which guns were trained on the 
Legations. The soldiers on duty here 
were quartered in the house of Ching 
Shan. 

(34) The execution ground where were put 

to death the Reformers of 1898 and 
the Ministers who, in 1900, protested 
against the attack on the Legations. 

(35) The residence, in 1861 of Tsai Yiian, 

hereditary Prince Yi, who was put 
to death by Tzii Hsi for usurping the 
Regency. 

(36) Residence of Tuan Hua, the Co-Regent 

with Tsai Yiian, also allowed to commit 
suicide in 1861. 

(37) The Imperial Clan Court, in which is 

the "Empty Chamber," where the 
usurping Princes met their death. 

(38) Residence of the "Beileh" Tsai Ying, 

son of Prince Kung, cashiered for 
complicity in the Boxer rising. 

(39) The site of the Chan-Ta-ssu, a famous 

Lama Temple, destroyed by the French 
in 1900 for having been a Boxer 
drilling ground. 

(40) Residence of the Chief Eunuch, Li 

Lien-ying. 

(41) Now the Belgian Legation premises, 

but formerly the residence of the 
Boxer protagonist, Hsii T'ung, that 
fierce old Imperial Tutor whose am- 
bition it was to have his cart covered 
with the skins of foreign devils. 

(42) The Imperial Canal, by way of which 

the Old Buddha used to proceed in her 
State barge to the Summer Palace. 

(43) The graves of the Empress Dowager's 

parents. They are adorned with two 
marble pillars, bearing laudatory 
inscriptions. 



XIV 



INDEX TO NUMBERED MAP OF PEKING 



(44) Here was erected the temporary rail- 

way station at which the Empress 
alighted on her return from exile. 

(45) In the north-west corner of the enceinte 

of the Chien Men, a shrine at which 
the Empress Dowager and the Emperor 
sacrificed to the tutelary god of the 
dynasty (Kuan Yii), the patron saint of 
the Boxers. 

(46) At this point many Christians were 

massacred on the night of 13th June, 
1900. 

(47) Palace of Prince Chuang, the Boxer 

leader, mentioned by Ching Shan as 
the place where the Christians were 
tried. 

(48) Residence of Yiian Ch'ang, where he 

was arrested for denouncing the 
Boxers. 

(49) Residence of the Grand Secretary, 

Wang Wen-shao. 

(50) Residence of Yang Li-shan, the Presi- 

dent of the Board of Revenue, executed 
by order of Prince Tuan. 

(51) Residence of Duke Lan, the Boxer 

leader. At present occupied by 
Prince Pu Chiin, the deposed Heir to 
the Throne and a most notorious 
reprobate. 



(52) Tzii Ning Kung, or Palace of Maternal 

Tranquillity, where the Empress 
Dowager Tzii An resided during 
most of the years of the Co- 
Regency. 

(53) Chang Ch'un Kung, or Palace of 

Perpetual Spring, where Tzvi Hsi 
resided during the reign of T'ung- 
Chih. 

(54) Residence of the actors engaged for 

Palace performances. 

(55) The Nei Wu Fu, or Imperial Household 

Department Offices. 

(56) The Taoist Temple (Ta Kao Tien), 

where the Emperor prays for rain or 
snow. 

(57), (58) In these two Palaces resided the 
chief Imperial concubines. After Tzii 
Hsi's resumption of the Regency in 
1898, Kuang Hsii and His Consort 
occupied small apartments at the back 
of her Palace, on the brief visits of the 
Court to the Forbidden City. 

(59) Chung Ho Tien, or Throne Hall of 
Permanent Harmony, Here H.M. 
Kuang Hsii was arrested in September 
1898 and taken away to confinement 
in the "Ocean Terrace." 



XV 



\ ^■:' 



THE PARENTAGE AND YOUTH OF 
YEHONALA 

The family of Yehonala, one of the oldest of the 
Manchu clans, traces its descent in direct line to Prince 
Yangkunu, whose daughter married (in 1588) Nurhachu, the 
real founder of Manchu rule in China and the first direct 
ancestor of the Ta Ching Emperors. Yangkunu was killed 
at Mukden in 1583, in one of his raids upon the territories 
which still owed allegiance to the degenerate Chinese 
sovereign Wan Li. His clan lived and flourished in that 
region, near the Corean border, which is dominated by the 
Long White Mountain, the true cradle of the Manchu 
stock. He and his people seem to have acquired the arts of 
war, and much lust of conquest, by constantly harassing the 
rich lands on their ever-shifting borders, those rich lands 
which to-day seem to be about to pass under the yoke of 
new invaders. Yangkunu's daughter assumed the title of 
Empress by right of her husband's conquests, and her son it 
was who eventually wrested the whole of Manchuria from 
the Ming Dynasty and reigned under the name of Tien- 
Ts'ung. 

Into this clan, in November 1835, was born Yehonala, 
whose life was destined to influence countless millions of 
human beings, Yehonala, who was to be thrice Regent of 
China and its autocratic ruler for over half a century. Her 

1 B 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

father, whose name was Hui Cheng, held hereditary 
rank as Captain in one of the Eight Banner Corps. 
Considering the advantages of his birth, he was generally 
accounted unsuccessful by his contemporaries ; at the time 
of his death he had held no higher post than that of an 
Intendant of Circuit, or Taotai. Holding this rank in the 
province of Anhui, he died when his daughter was but three 
years of age. His widow and family were well cared for by 
a kinsman named Muyanga, father of her who subsequently 
became Empress Consort of Hsien-Feng and Co-Regent 
with Yehonala. From him the children received every 
advantage of education. 

Many unfounded and ridiculous stories have been 
circulated in recent years attributing to the Empress 
Dowager humble, and sometimes disgraceful, antecedents. 
Many of these are nothing more than the fruit of Yellow 
Journalism, seeking sensational material of the kind which 
appeals to the iconoclastic instincts of its readers. Others, 
however, undoubtedly owe their origin to the envy, hatred 
and malice of Palace intrigues, to the initiative of the Iron- 
capped Princes and other high officials of the elder branch of 
the Imperial family, many of whom were addicted to 
besmirching the family and character of Tzii Hsi in order to 
inflict " loss of face " on the Yehonala clan. In this way, 
and because mud thrown from above usually sticks, their 
malicious stories were freely circulated, and often believed, 
in Peking and in the South : witness the writings of K'ang 
Yu-wei and his contemporaries.^ 

To cite an instance. One of these mythical stories used 
to be told, with every appearance of good faith, by Prince 
Tun, the fifth son of the Emperor Tao-Kuang. This 
Prince cherished a grudge against Tzu Hsi because of his 
disappointed ambitions : adopted himself out of the direct 

^ As an example of unbalanced vituperation, uttei*ed in good faith and 
with the best intentions, vide The Chinese Crisis from Within by " Wen Ching," 
republished from the Singapore Free Press in 1901 (Grant Richards). 

2 



PARENTAGE AND YOUTH OF YEHONALA 

line of succession, he had nevertheless hoped, in 1875, that 
his son would have been chosen Emperor. The story, as he 
used to tell it, was that when the Empress's mother had 
been left a widow with a large family (including the future 
ruler of China) they lived in the most abject poverty at the 
prefectural city of Ningkuo, where her husband had held 
office and died. Having no funds to pay for her return to 
Peking, she would have been reduced to beggary had it not 
been that, by a lucky accident, a sum of money intended for 
another traveller was delivered on board of her boat at a 
city on the way, and that the traveUer, on learnmg of the 
mistake and being moved to pity at the sight of the family's 
destitution, insisted on her keeping the money. Twenty-five 
years later, when Tzii Hsi had become the all-powerful 
Regent, this official appeared for audience at Peking, when, 
remembering the benefits received at his hands, the Empress 
raised him from his knees and expressed her gratitude for his 
kindness. The story is prettier than many which emanate 
from the same source, and original, too, in the idea of a 
Manchu official dying at his provincial post m abject 
poverty, but unfortunately for the truth of the narrative, it 
has been estabhshed beyond shadow of doubt that neither 
the wife nor the famfiy of Tzu Hsi's father were with him at 
the time of his death. They had gone on ahead to Pekmg, 
in anticipation of his early return thither to take up a new 
appointment in the White Banner Corps. 

Before proceeding further, it may be well to refer briefly 
to the Yehonala clan and its position in relation to the elder 
branch of the Imperial family, a question of no small im- 
portance, past and future, in its effect on the history ot 
modern China. Jealousy and friction there have always 
been between the Imperial house and this powerful patrician 
clan, since the first Yehonala became de facto ruler of the 
Empire after the collapse of the Tsai Yiian conspiracy, but 
their relations became more markedly strained after the 
coup d'etat in 1898, and although the wholesome fear of the 
^ 3 B 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Empress Dowager's " divine wrath " prevented any definite 
cleavage, the possibiHties of trouble were ever latent in the 
Forbidden City. Recent events at Peking, and especially 
the dismissal of the Chihli Viceroy, Tuan Fang, for alleged 
irreverence at the funeral ceremonies of the late Empress 
Dowager, have emphasised the divisions in the Manchu 
camp and the dangers that beset its Government, now 
bereft of the strong hand of Tzu Hsi. It is difficult for 
foreigners to form any clear idea of the actual conditions of 
life and of party divisions in the Palace, confused as they 
are by intricate questions of genealogy, of inter-marriage 
and adoptions by relatives, of ancient clan feuds. It should, 
however, be explained that the Imperial Clansmen (known 
in their own tongue as Aisin Gioros) divided into the 
Yellow and Red Girdles, are the descendants respectively 
of Nurhachu himself and of that ruler's ancestors, by 
virtue of which ancestry they consider themselves (and 
the Chinese would recognise the claim) to be the sang jpur 
and highest nobility of the Manchu Dynasty. The Yehonala 
clan, although in no sense of Royal blood (as marriages 
between the sovereign and female members of a family do 
not entitle that family to claim more than noble rank) owes 
its great power not only to its numbers, but to the fact 
that it has given three Empresses Dowager to the Empire ; 
but, above all, to the great prestige and personal popularity 
of Tzii Hsi. If recent events are to be interpreted in the 
light of history, and of her significant death-bed mandate, 
the present leaders of the Yehonala clan are determined that 
the present Empress Dowager, the widow of Kuang-Hsii, 
shall follow in the footsteps of her august aunt, and control 
the business of the State, at least during the Regency. And, 
thanks to Tzii Hsi's far-seeing statecraft, the young Emperor 
is a grandson of Jung Lu, and may be expected therefore to 
reverence the policy handed down by the Old Buddha. 

One long-standing cause of suspicion and dissension 
between the parties in the Palace arises from the fear of the 




The Regent, Prince Ch'un, with his two Sons, the Present Emperor (standing) and 

Prince P'u Chieh. 



PARENTAGE AND YOUTH OF YEHONALA 

elder descendants of Tao-Kuang (of whom Prince P'u Lun 
and Prince Kung are the chief representatives) that the 
present boy-Emperor, or his father, the Regent, will here- 
after elevate the founder of his branch, the first Prince 
Ch'un, to the posthumous rank of Emperor, a species of 
canonisation which Europeans might consider unimportant, 
but which, in the eyes of the Chinese, would constitute a 
sort of posthumous usurpation on the part of the junior 
branch of the Imperial clan, since the first Prince Ch'un 
would thus be placed on a footing of equality with 
Nurhachu, the founder of the Dynasty, and would practically 
become the founder of a new line. The first Prince Ch'un 
had himself foreseen the possibility of such an occurrence, 
and had realised that it could not fail to lead to serious 
trouble, for which reason, as will be seen hereafter, he had 
taken precautions to prevent it. It has not escaped the 
attention of those whose business it is to watch the straws 
that float down the stream of high Chinese policy that, since 
the accession of the present child-Emperor to the Throne, 
the ancestral sacrifices made at the mausoleum of the first 
Prince Ch'un have been greatly elaborated in pomp and 
circumstance, while in official documents his name has been 
given "double elevation," that is to say, in the eyes of 
the literati he is made to rank on the same level as a reign- 
ing Emperor. It is commonly believed by those Chinese 
who are in a position to speak with authority on the subject, 
that when the Emperor attains his majority, he will be led 
to confer further posthumous honours upon his grandfather, 
including that of " triple elevation," which would place him 
on a footing of equality with a deceased Emperor, and 
entitle him to worship at a special shrine in the Temple of 
the Ancestors of the Dynasty. From a Chinese constitu- 
tional point of view, the consequences of such a step would 
be extremely serious and difficult of adjustment. 

The Old Buddha was a strong partisan, and during her 
lifetime her immediate kinsmen were practically above the 

5 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

law, basking in the sunshine of her protection or making 
hay thereby, so that there was always a strong undercurrent 
of friction between them and the Yellow and Red Girdles, 
friction of which echoes frequently reached the tea-houses 
and market places of the capital. Tzii Hsi delighted to 
snub the Aisin Gioros ; in one Decree she forbade them to 
reside in the business quarter of the city, on the ground that 
she had heard it said that some of them were making money 
by disreputable trades. She was by no means beloved of 
the Iron-capped princes and other noble descendants of 
Nurhachu, who, while they feared her, never ceased to 
complain that she curtailed their time-honoured privileges. 

An interesting example of her masterful methods of 
dealing with these hereditary aristocrats occurred when one 
of the Imperial Dukes ventured to build himself a pre- 
tentious house in the immediate vicinity of the Imperial 
City, and overlooking a considerable portion of the palace 
enclosure. No sooner was the building completed than the 
Old Buddha confiscated it, reprimanding the owner for his 
lack of decorum in daring to overlook the Palace grounds, 
and forthwith she bestowed it upon her younger brother, the 
Duke Chao. 

Another example of her clannishness, and of the diffi- 
culties which it created for the local authorities, occurred 
upon the establishment of the new Police Board at Peking, 
three years after the return of the Court from exile in 1902. 
The Grand Councillor, Hsii Shih-ch'ang, a Chinese by birth, 
and a favourite of Her Majesty, was placed at the head of this 
new Board, but he soon realised that the lot of his police- 
men, when dealing with the members of the ruling clan, was 
by no means a happy one. Her Majesty's third brother, the 
Duke Kuei Hsiang, was a particularly hardened offender, 
absolutely declining to recognise police regulations of any 
kind, and inciting his retainers to " gain face " by driving on 
the wrong side of the road and by committing other breaches 
of the regulations. On one occasion a zealous policeman 

6 



PAREl^TAGE AND YOUTH OF YEHONALA 

went so far as to arrest one of the Duke's servants. Hsii 
Shih-ch'ang, hearing of the occurrence, promptly ordered 
the man's release, but the Duke, grievously insulted, insisted 
upon an abject apology from the head of the Board in 
person. Thrice did the unfortunate Hsii call at the Duke's 
palace without gaining admission, and it was only after he 
had performed a kowtow before the Duke in the open 
courtyard outside the palace that his apology was accepted. 
An idea of the importance of this incident in the eyes of 
the Pekinese, and of the power of the clansmen, may be 
inferred from the fact that Hsii subsequently became 
Viceroy of the Manchurian provinces, later President of the 
Ministry of Posts and Communications, and in August, 
1910, was elevated to the Grand Council. On this occasion, 
however, the Old Buddha, learning of the incident, "ex- 
cused " Hsii from further attendance at the Grand Council, 
and shortly afterwards he was transferred to Mukden. 

Yehonala's mother, the lady Niuhulu, survived her husband 
for many years, residing in his house in " Pewter Lane " 
(Hsi-la-hu-t'ung), quite close to the Legation quarter. 
When her daughter became Empress Mother, she received 
the rank of Imperial Duchess. She appears to have been a 
lady of great ability and good sense, distinguished even 
amongst the members of a clan always noted for the intelli- 
gence of its women kind. After living to a ripe old age, she 
was buried beside her husband in the family graveyard which 
Ues without the city to the west, in the vicinity of the 
Europeans' race-course, where her daughter's fQial piety was 
displayed by the erection of an honorific arch and the 
customary marble tablets. When, in January 1902, the 
Empress Dowager returned from exile by railway from 
Cheng- ting fu, she gained great kudos from the orthodox by 
declining to enter the capital by the Hankow railway line, 
because that line ran close to her parents' graves, and it 
would have been a serious breach of respect to their memory 
to pass the spot without reverently alighting to make 

7 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

obeisance. She therefore changed her route, entering Peking 
from the south, to the great admiration of all her people. 

Of Yehonala's childhood there is little to record except 
that among her youthful playmates was a kinsman, Jung Lu, 
who in after years was to play so prominent a part in many 
a crisis of her career. By common report she had been 
betrothed to him from birth. This report is not verifiable, 
but there is no doubt that the great influence which Jung 
Lu exercised over her, far greater than that of any of her 
family or highest officials, was founded in their early youth. 
K'ang Yu-wei and other Chinese officials opposed to the 
Manchu rule have not hesitated to assert that he was on 
terms of improper intimacy with her for years, dating from 
the flight to Jehol, and before the decease of her husband 
the Emperor. 

Yehonala's education followed the usual classical course, 
but the exceptional alertness and activity of her mind, 
combined with her inordinate ambition and love of power, 
enabled her to rise superior to its usually petrifying influences 
and to turn her studies to practical account in the world of 
living men. She learned to paint skilfully and to take real 
pleasure in the art ; she was an adept at the composition of 
verses, as classically wooden in form as anything produced by 
the most distinguished of English public schools. At the age 
of sixteen she had mastered the Five Classics in Chinese and 
Manchu, and had studied to good purpose the historical 
records of the twenty-four Dynasties. She had beyond doubt 
that love of knowledge which is the beginning of wisdom, 
and the secret of power, and she had, moreover, the 
chroniclers aver, a definite presentiment of the greatness of 
her destiny. 

Upon the death of the Emperor Tao-Kuang in 1850, his 
eldest surviving son, aged nineteen, ascended the Throne 
under the reign-title of Hsien-Feng. After the expiry of the 
period of mourning (twenty-seven months) during which 
the new Emperor may not marry, a Decree was issued 



PARENTAGE AND YOUTH OF YEHONALA 

commanding that all beautiful Manchu maidens of eligible 
age should present themselves at the Imperial Household 
Office which would make from them a selection for the 
Emperor's harem. Prior to his accession, Hsien-Feng had 
married the eldest daughter of Muyanga, but she had died 
before his coming to the Throne. Among the maidens who 
obeyed the nuptial Edict were Muyanga's second daughter, 
Sakota, and the young Yehonala. On the 14th of June, 
1852, about sixty of the beauty and fashion of the Manchu 
aristocracy appeared before the critical eye of the widow of 
Tao-Kuang, who selected twenty-eight from among them, 
and these she divided into the four classes of Imperial 
concubines, viz., " Fei," " P'in," " Kuei Jen," and " Ch'ang 
Tsai." Sakota thus became a " P'in," and Yehonala a " Kuei 
Jen " or " honourable person." With rare exceptions, these 
Imperial concubines are much more the servants of their 
mother-in-law than the wives of their sovereign. In theory, 
their number is limited to seventy, but this number is seldom 
maintained ; beside them, there are within the Palace 
precincts some two thousand female Manchus, employed as 
handmaidens and general servants under the direction of the 
eunuchs. In all domestic matters of the household, the 
widow of the Emperor last deceased exercises supreme 
authority, and although precedent allows the Emperor to 
inspect the ladies selected, he has no voice in their disposition 
or the determination of their rank. 

Thus Yehonala left her home in Pewter Lane to become 
an inmate of the Forbidden City, cut off henceforth from all 
direct intercourse with her own people. An aged tiring 
woman who served her from the time of her first entry into 
the Palace until her death, is our authority for the following 
interesting description of the only visit which she ever paid 
to her family. It was in January 1857, nine months after 
the birth of her son, the heir to the Throne, that, by special 
permission of the Emperor, she was allowed to leave the 
Palace. Early in the morning, eunuchs were sent to announce 

9 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

to her mother that her daughter, the Concubine Yi, was 
coming to visit her at mid-day. There was much joyful 
excitement amongst the family and its friends at this rare 
honour. All the neighbours in Pewter Lane turned out to 
see the eunuchs and the yellow-draped chair. The mother 
and aU the members of the household (including some of an 
elder generation) ranged themselves on either side of the 
entrance courtyard as the chair was borne within. At the 
head of the steps leading to the inner courtyard the eunuchs 
in attendance requested her to descend ; she then entered the 
main room, where she took the seat of honour. Her family 
approached respectfully to salute her, all kneeling except her 
mother and the elder relatives. A banquet was then served 
at which, by special arrangement, the mother took a seat 
lower than that of the daughter, thus recognising her position 
as mother of the Heir Apparent. All present were 
most favourably impressed by Yehonala's unaffected and 
affectionate disposition ; she seemed quite unspoiled by the 
formalities and splendours of Court life, talking with all the 
old vivacity as a daughter of the house, showing the keenest 
interest in the family's affairs, and particularly in the educa- 
tion of her sisters. 

The banquet lasted till late in the afternoon, Yehonala 
asking and answering innumerable questions. As the short 
January day drew to its close, the eunuchs requested her 
to prepare to return to the Palace. She therefore took 
an affectionate farewell of her family, expressing sincere 
regret that her life must be cut off from theirs, but hoping 
that some day the Emperor might again permit her to 
visit them. Her mother, she said, would, in any case, be 
allowed to come and see her in the Palace. After distri- 
buting presents to all the members of her family, she 
entered her palanquin and was borne away. She never 
saw her home again, but in later years her mother used 
frequently to visit her in the Forbidden City. 

Upon entering the Palace, Yehonala proceeded to establish 

10 



PARENTAGE AND YOUTH OF YEHONALA 

herself firmly and speedily in the good graces of Tao- 
Kuang's widow ; through her influence at first, and later by 
virtue of her own charm, she soon became first favourite 
with her weak and dissolute lord ; and when, in April 1856, 
she crowned his long disappointed ambitions by presenting 
him with an heir to the Throne, her position was completely 
assured. At the time of her entering the Palace, the 
Taiping rebellion was causing great uneasiness at the capital. 
In March 1853, the rebels took Nanking, the southern 
capital. Yehonala, who had already made it her business to 
read, and advise on, all Memorials from the provinces, used 
her growing influence with the Son of Heaven to secure the 
appointment of Tseng Kuo-fan as Commander-in-Chief, 
and to provide him with funds for the raising of train-bands 
in Hunan, with which, and with the help of General 
Gordon, Tseng eventually suppressed the rebellion. 
Thus early she showed her superiority to environment and 
the fetters of tradition, displaying at a moment of national 
danger that breadth of mind and quick decision which dis- 
tinguished her. By all official precedent, Tseng Kuo-fan was 
not available for service, being in mourning for his mother, 
but it was ever Yehonala's opinion that precedents were 
meant to be subordinate to the State and not the State to 
precedents, wherein Hes the mark of the born ruler. 

In August 1855 the widow of Tao-Kuang died and 
Yehonala, in recognition " of her dutiful ministrations," was 
raised to the rank of " P'in," her colleague Sakota having 
in the meanwhile become Empress Consort. 

It was the common belief of Chinese writers at this time 
that the reign of Hsien-Feng w^ould witness the end of the 
Dynasty, which was held to have " exhausted the mandate of 
Heaven." All over the Empire rebellion was rife ; the 
sovereign himself was a weak debauchee, incapable of 
inspiring either loyalty or affection in his people. In the 
eyes of the literati he was a degenerate, having none of 
the scholarly tastes which had made his five predecessors 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

famous in history, nor any disposition to follow their 
example in the compiling of monumental editions of the 
classics and dictionaries, which have endeared their memory 
to scholars. It was, moreover, considered ominous that 
no heir had yet been born to him, though he was now 
twenty-five, several of his predecessors having provided for 
the succession before they were fifteen. When, therefore, 
in April 1856, Yehonala gave birth to a son, and at the 
same time the rebels were driven from the provinces of 
Hunan and Kiangsi, it was felt that the tide of evil had 
turned and that Heaven's favour once more smiled upon the 
Throne. 

At this period, the health of the Emperor, stricken with 
paralysis, had completely broken down and Yehonala, by 
virtue of her position as mother of the Heir Apparent, 
and even more by reason of her masterful character, became 
the real ruler of the Empire. Her colleague, the Empress 
Consort, took httle or no active interest in the business 
of government. In actual rank, Yehonala had risen to 
the position of a concubine of the first grade " Fei " and 
was generally known in the metropoHs as the " Kuei Fei, 
Yi," the last word being her honorific title, meaning 
"feminine virtue." 

Her advice on foreign affairs at this period was generally 
of an aggressive character, and the fact is not matter for 
wonder when we bear in mind her youth, her pride of race 
and her complete ignorance of foreign countries and their 
resources. On the return of the special Envoy Ch'i Ying, 
who had been sent to endeavour to induce Lord Elgin 
to leave Taku and whose mission had ignominiously failed, it 
was to the haughty Yehonala 'that common report credited 
the Decree which ordered him to be presented with the 
" silken cord " of self-despatch, as a mark of " the Throne's 
benevolent leniency." To her also was ascribed the Emperor's 
refusal to permit the High Commissioner Yeh at Canton to 
negotiate with the British on trade questions, a decision 

12 




H.I.H. P'u Ju, Cousin of the Present Emperor, Son of the Boxer Prince Tsai-Ying, 
AND Grandson of Prince Kung. 



PARENTAGE AND YOUTH OF YEHONALA 

which led directly to the capture of that city by the foreign 
barbarian in the following year. In the records left by 
chroniclers and diarists of that time it is generally noticeable 
that the Emperor's opinions and doings are ignored and that 
all the business of the Imperial City and the Empire had 
come to depend on the word of Yehonala, a fact in itself 
sufficiently remarkable in a country where no woman is 
supposed to rule, and particularly remarkable when we bear 
in mind that she was at this time only a concubine and 
twenty-two years of age. 

To prevent confusion arising from the several names 
and titles of the Empress Dowager, it should be explained 
that her family or clan name of Yehonala was that by which 
she was known to the world of Peking before and at the 
time of her selection for the Imperial harem. In the Palace, 
until her accession to the rank of Empress Mother (Empress 
of the West), she was still Yehonala, but more usually 
described as the " Yi " concubine. As co-Regent and 
Empress Mother, her official designation. Imperially decreed, 
was Tzu Hsi, to which many other honorifics were added. 
To the mass of the people she was either the Empress 
Dowager {Huang Tai Hou) or the Old Buddha, and 
towards the end of her reign this last affisctionately respect- 
ful title was universally used in the North. 



13 



II 

THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

The causes and history of the invasion of North China by 
the aUied forces of England and France are too well known 
to need re-stating here, but the part played by Yehonala in 
the stirring days which preceded and followed the flight to 
Jehol are not familiar to European readers. Most interest- 
ing details are given on this subject by a certain Doctor 
of Letters and member of the Hanlin Academy, whose 
diary was printed privately in narrative form several 
years later, and from this document the following extracts 
are taken. It was originally entitled " A Record of Grief 
Incurable " and, as will be noted, it is primarily a monument 
of filial piety, into which the doings of the barbarians, and 
the already dominant personality of Yehonala, are artlessly 
interwoven, with a certain quality of sincerity that attracts. 
The narrative itself is full of human interest. 

"In the 7th Moon of the 'Keng Shen' year (August 1860), 
five or six days after my mother fell sick, rumours began to 
circulate that the barbarians had already reached Taku. It 
was generally known that many Memorials had reached the 
Throne from the metropolitan and provincial officials, but as 
no mention of them had appeared in the Gazette, it was only 
natural that there should be a very widespread feehng of 
uneasiness and many alarming rumours. So far, however, 
there had been no fleeing from the city. His Majesty was 
seriously ill, and it was known that he wished to leave for 
the north, but the Imperial Concubine Yi and Prince Seng 

14 



THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

dissuaded him from this and assured him that the barbarians 
would never enter the city. 

" At this time my mother was suffering from dysentery, 
but she ordered the servants to keep it from me. It was 
only one day, when I noticed a prescription lying on her 
table, that I realised that she was indeed seriously ill. 
Doctor Liu was in attendance, as usual, but I never had any 
confidence in him or his methods, which seemed to me far too 
drastic, IS evertheless he had advised and attended her for 
seven years, and my mother and all her household placed 
implicit confidence in him. Alas, the Ancients have rightly 
said that a good son should know something of the 
principles of medicine, and surely my ignorance has been the 
first cause of my mother's death. Though I should give up 
my life a hundred times, how can I ever atone for this ? 

" During the next few days, people began to leave 
Peking, for the report was spread that our troops had been 
defeated at Taku, and that a Brigadier General was among 
the slain ; the garrison had fled from Pei T'ang and the forts 
were in the hands of the barbarians. Prince Seng had been 
ordered by Edict not to fight a pitched battle, so that our 
forces were idly confronting the enemy. Nothing definite 
was known as to the real cause of our defeat, and the people, 
being kept in ignorance, gradually got over their first 
alarm. 

" On the 13th of the 7th Moon, I noticed a change for the 
worse in my mother's condition, and straightway applied for 
ten days' leave of absence from my official duties. I kept 
her ignorant of the political situation and urged her to 
abstain from worry of every kind. But every-day the news 
was worse, and people began to leave the city in thousands. 

" On the following day, Magistrate Li Min-chai looked in 
to say good-bye, as he was leaving to join the troops in 
Anhui. He expressed strong disapproval of Dr. Liu's 
prescription and gave me one of his own. My mother was 
averse to taking his medicine, but I persuaded her to do so. 
In the night she was suddenly seized with shortness of 
breath, and hastily I sent for Mr. Li, who assured me that 
this was in no way due to his medicine. My mother, 
however, insisted upon returning to Dr. Liu's prescription, 

15 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

so all I could do was to urge him to compound it of drugs 
less strong and more suited to a patient of my mother's 
advanced years. 

" My mother then bade me to prepare her coffin as she 
was certain that her death was near. Fortunately I had 
bought the wood eight years before at Mukden, and had 
stored it in a coffin shop in Peking, whence I now had 
it fetched. We set carpenters to work in our court-yard, 
and by the 20th, the coffin was finished. The wood was 
beautifully thick, and the whole appearance of the coffin 
most creditable. Never could I have expected that at such 
a time of haste and general disorder so perfect a piece of 
work could have been produced. The carpenters assured me 
that at the present time such a coffin would cost at least a 
thousand taels in Peking.^ This comforted me not a little. 

" Next morning the lacquer shop people sent over to put 
on the first coating of lacquer, in which at least two pounds 
were used. We then sent for the tailor and six assistants to 
make the grave clothes and purchased the materials for my 
mother's ceremonial 'going away dress.' 1 had a long sable 
robe made up, but next day, as my mother appeared to be 
slightly better, I decided to postpone having the long outer 
robes prepared. Rumours were now rife that the barbarians 
had already reached T'ungchou, and were going to bombard 
Peking on the 27th, so that everyone was escaping who 
could leave the city. On the 27th, we put on the second 
coating of lacquer. 

" On that day, our troops captured the barbarian leader 
Pa Hsia-li (Parkes) together with eight others, who were 
imprisoned in the Board of Punishments, Thereupon the 
whole city was in an uproar, and it became known that His 
Majesty was preparing to leave on a tour northwards. But 
the Concubine Yi persuaded some of the older officials to 
memorialise, urging him to remain, none of which 
Memorials have been published. All the Manchu and 
Chinese officials were now sending their families away and 
their valuables, but the large shops outside the main gate were 
doing business as usual. My mother's condition remained 
much the same, and I applied for another ten days' leave. 

1 About £120. 

16 

1 



r 
1 



THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

" On the 1st of the 8th Moon, we appHed another coating 
of lacquer to the coffin. On the same day Dr. Liu changed 
my mother's medicine, but, the dysentery continued 
unabated. 

" On the 4th my mother called me to her bedside and 
said : ' I cannot possibly recover. See that all is prepared for 
the burial. I shall take no food to-day.' I felt as if a 
knife had been thrust into my vitals, and sent straightway 
for the tailor to hurry on with the ceremonial robes. My 
friend, P'an Yu-shih, called and recommended a purgative, 
but my mother was very angry, and refused point-blank to 
take it. In the night she had a violent attack of vomiting, 
which seemed to reheve her — so much so, that I told the 
tailor not to be in too great a hurry. Next morning the 
robes were finished, but my mother thought the coverlet too 
heavy, and I substituted therefor a lighter material, silk. 
To this she objected as being too luxurious and more 
expensive than she had any right to expect ; she observed 
that her parents-in-law had not had grave-wrappings of such 
valuable stuif. Meanwhile the confusion in Peking was 
hourly increasing, and huge crowds were hurrying from the 
city. Most of the city gates were closed for fear of the 
barbarians, but the ' Chang-yi ' gate in the southern city was 
still open. 

" On the 7th, our troops engaged the barbarians outside the 
Ch'i Hua gate. The van was composed of untrained Mongol 
cavalry, who had never been in action. No sooner had the 
barbarians opened fire than they turned as one man, broke 
their ranks and stampeded upon the infantry in their rear. 
Many were trampled to death, and a general rout followed, 
our men fleeing in every direction and the barbarians pressing 
on to the city walls. 

" Certain Princes and Ministers besought the Concubine Yi 
to induce the Emperor to leave on a tour. His Majesty 
was only too anxious to start at once, but the Concubine Yi 
persuaded two of the Grand Secretaries to memorialise 
against his doing so, and in response to this a Decree was 
issued stating that under no circumstances would the 
Emperor leave his capital. Another Decree was put out 
by the Concubine Yi offering large rewards to any who 

17 c 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

should slay the barbarians. It was generally thought that 
the Emperor would now forgo his intended departure. 

"Early next morning we heard the news of another 
engagement outside the Ch'i Hua gate, upon which news 
His Sacred Majesty, attended by all his concubines, the 
Princes, Ministers and Dukes, and all the officers of the 
Household, left the city in a desperate rout and disorder 
unspeakable, affording a spectacle that gave the impression 
that hordes of barbarians were already in close pursuit. As 
a matter of fact, the foreigners were still at a considerable 
distance, and at the Summer Palace, where the Court lay, 
there was nothing whatsoever to cause the slightest appre- 
hension. I cannot understand why His Majesty was allowed 
to leave ; up to the very last the Yi Concubine begged him 
to remain in his Palace, as his presence there could not fail to 
awe the barbarians, and thus to exercise a protecting influence 
for the good of the city and people. How, said she, could 
the barbarians be expected to spare the city if the Sacred 
Chariot had fled, leaving unprotected the tutelary shrines 
and the altars of the gods ? She begged him to bear in 
mind that episode in the Chou Dynasty, when the Son of 
Heaven fled his capital, ' his head covered with dust,' and 
was forced to take refuge with one of his feudatory Princes. 
The Chinese people have always regarded this as a humiliating 
event in the history of their country, but the present flight of 
the Court appears more humiliating still. 

'* Meantime my mother's condition was becoming critical, 
and I had scant leisure for considering the political situation. 
Every official of any standing had either left the capital by 
this time or was leaving, and all the merchants who could 
afford it were sending their families away. The cost of 
transport was prohibitive for many ; the price of a cart with 
one mule to go to Cho-chou was twenty taels, and to Pao-ting 
fu (60 miles) they charged thirty taels. In my case there 
could be no question of removing my mother, and there 
was nothiQg for it therefore but to sit still and face the 
situation. 

" As the dysentery grew more acute every day, with Dr. 
Liu's permission I tried Dr. Yang's prescription. It was, 
however, too late, and nothing could help her now. On the 

18 




l^hoto. Ogaiva, Tokio. 



The Imperial Dais in the Chiao-Tal Hall. 



THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

morning of the 12th she was in extremis, and had lost the 
power of swallowing ; so we sent for Li, the tailor, to put a 
few finishing touches on the burial robes, and to prepare the 
* cockcrow pillow ' and coverlets. At 11 p.m. she passed 
away, abandoning her most undutiful son. Alas, there is no 
doubt that her death lies at my door, because of my ignorance 
of medicine. Smiting my body against the ground, I invoke 
Heaven, but ten thousand separate deaths could not atone for 
my sins. 

*' We arrayed her, then, in her robes. First her hand- 
maiden put on the inner garments, a chemise of white silk, 
then a jacket of grey silk, and outside that a wadded robe of 
blue satin. Then were put on the robe and mantle of 
State, with the badge of her official rank, the jade girdle and 
necklace of amber. After the gold hair ornaments had been 
placed in position, the Phoenix hat was set upon her head ; 
red mattresses were laid upon the couch, and we placed her 
in a comfortable position, with her head reclining on the 
' cockcrow ' pillow of red satin. Not a friend came near us, 
and every door in the neighbourhood was closed. Next 
morning I lined the coffin with red satin, and then padded 
it with straw to prevent it shaking, and at 3 p.m. I invited 
my mother to ascend into her 'long home.' 

" The city was in a terrible tumult, and a friend came in 
to advise me to bury my mother temporarily in a temple 
outside the city. It would not be safe, he said, to inter her 
in the courtyard of this house, for the barbarian is suspicious 
by nature, and will assuredly search every house in Peking 
as soon as the city is taken. It was impossible for me to con- 
sider calmly what might happen if they were to find and to 
desecrate my mother's coffin. I remembered what has been 
told of their doings in Canton under similar circumstances. 

" On the 14th, the 'Chang-yi' gate was opened, and I 
found a temple, suitably situated, which the priest was 
willing to allow me to rent. I prepared therefore to watch 
over my mother's remains, sending my family in the mean- 
while to live with an old pupil of mine at Pa-chou. Only 
the two western gates of the Chinese city were still open, 
and as the Hata Men and the Ch'ien Men had been closed for 
four days, the stream of traffic through the Shun-chih Men 

19 c 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

caused perpetual blocks in that gateway. All the small 
pedlars, hawkers and barbers were fleeing the city, but still 
the large business houses remained open. 

*' On the 19th I conveyed my mother's remains to the 
temple ; I found all quiet there, but my progress through 
the city gate was very slow because of the crowd. On the 
23rd there were but few people abroad, and these clustering 
together in small groups and speaking in low voices. 
Suddenly, a little after mid-day, an immense blaze was seen 
to the north-west, and speedily it was reported that the 
barbarians had seized Hai-tien and the Summer Palace. Our 
army is said to number half a million men, and yet it seems 
that not one of them dare oppose the barbarians' advance. 
They have about a thousand of cavalry, yet they move about 
at will in our midst as if in an uninhabited wilderness ! 'Tis 
passing strange ! The troops of Prince Seng and General 
Sheng have retreated to the Te-sheng gate. 

" On the 24th all the shops were closed, and the higher the 
price of vehicles, the greater the number of people to wish to 
engage them. The poorer class were using wheelbarrows, on 
which they packed their most valuable moveables for flight. 

" Prince Kung sent an Envoy to the barbarians' camp 
with a despatch asking for an armistice. On arriving 
in the vicinity of the camp, however, the messenger saw 
the barbarians pointing rifles at him, so that he turned 
and fled. 

" On the afternoon of the 24th, vast columns of smoke 
were seen rising to the north-west, and it was ascertained 
that the barbarians had entered the Summer Palace, and 
after plundering the three main halls, leaving them absolutely 
bare, they had set fire to the buildings. Their excuse for this 
abominable behaviour is that their troops got out of hand, 
and had committed the incendiarism. After this they issued 
notices, placarded everywhere, in very bad Chinese, stating 
that unless terms of peace had been arranged before mid-day 
on the 29th, they would then bombard Peking, in which case 
all inhabitants who did not wish to share the fate of the city 
had better remove themselves to a safe distance. 

" On this day it was reported that The Sacred Chariot had 
reached Jehol in safety, but His Majesty had been greatly 

20 



THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

alarmed, and had issued a Decree expressing regret for his 
failure to commit suicide on the approach of the invaders. 
The Emperor is reported to be ill, and it is said that the 
Princes Tsai Yiian and Tuan Hua are trying to get themselves 
appointed to the Grand Council. Should the Emperor die 
{lit. 'when ten thousand years have passed') the Yi con- 
cubine will be made Empress Dowager, but at present she 
is reported to be at variance with the Princes, who are 
endeavouring to prejudice the Emperor against her. 

" I learnt that all was quiet at the temple where my 
mother's coffin rests. Troops were passing there daily, but, 
so far, none had occupied it. On the 29th, my servant-boy, 
Yung 'Erh, came to tell me that troops from Tientsin in the 
pay of the barbarians had occupied the temple, but on pro- 
ceeding thither I found them to be General Sheng's men. 
Prince Seng's troops were also near at hand, so that, if a 
bombardment had taken place, what could have prevented 
the destruction of the temple, and what would then have 
become of my mother's remains ? I therefore decided to 
engage wheelbarrows and handcarts, at six taels apiece, to 
take my family to Pao-ting fu, and I arranged with the 
undertakers to hire bearers for the coffin. 

"At 11 a.m. of the same day the barbarians entered the 
city by the Anting gate, occupying its tower and the wall 
adjoining. One large cannon and four small ones were 
placed in position on the wall, and a five-coloured flag 
hoisted there. With th^ exception of the officials entrusted 
with the duty of negotiating, not one remained in the city. 
Two days ago the prisoner Parkes, and his companions, 
were sent back to the enemy with every mark of courtesy. 
Scarcely had they reached their camp when a special Decree, 
post-haste from Jehol, ordered Prince Kung to decapitate 
them all forthwith as a warning to the bandits who had 
dared to invade the sacred precincts of the Palace. As the 
Yi concubine had urged their execution from the very first, 
it would seem as if her influence were again in the ascendant. 

" On the 1st of the 9th Moon, the 'Chang-yi' gate was 
closed, but I managed to leave the city by the Hsi-pien Men, 
where I was nearly crushed to death in the enormous crowd. 
Upon my arrival at the temple, I had a nice wadded cover 

21 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

made to put over the coffin, and then hurried back to the 
city to arrange for the cortege leaving next morning. The 
President of the Board of Finance, Liang Hai-lou, was 
hiding in the temple precincts with his family and chief 
concubine, all wearing common clothes and unshaven. This 
is a good example of the condition to which the very 
highest had been reduced. 

Next morning, on reaching the temple, I found the 
coffin-bearers and transport cooHes on the spot. But, un- 
fortunately, in my hurry, I failed to notice that the under- 
takers had supplied the frame, on which the coffin is carried, 
of a size smaller than had been agreed upon, so that instead 
of sixteen bearers there were but eight. We started, how- 
ever, and the procession's appearance of panic-stricken 
fugitives was most distressing to contemplate. But what 
could I do ? The first and only object in my mind was to 
protect my mother's coffin. I have omitted to state that 
my small servant-boy, Yung 'Erh, had started to accompany 
the coffin on foot. But, after they had started, it occurred 
to me that the lad could never stand so long a journey, and 
that should my mother be aware of it, she would be 
extremely anxious about him. Therefore, I quickly engaged 
another wheelbarrow for Yung 'Erh, and bade the coolies 
hurry after the procession. 

" On returning home T felt uneasy about the jolting 
which my mother's coffin must have experienced on the 
undersized frame. I went, therefore, to the undertakers and 
expostulated with them for having cheated me. After much 
altercation they agreed to change the frame, but I was to 
pay two taels more for the larger size. I subsequently 
learned that they failed to keep their promise, but there was 
no good to be got by suing them for breach of faith. They 
are sordid tricksters. Yung 'Erh wrote, however, to assure 
me that the party had reached Pao-ting fu in safety, and that 
the coffin had not been jolted in the least. On removing the 
wrappings the lacquer was found to b^ undamaged. 

" The barbarians were now in full possession of the city, 
and rumours were rife on all sides. Everyone in Peking — 
there were still a good many people — was terrified, and the 
Manchus were sending their families from the Tartar to the 

22 



THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

southern (Chinese) city to save their women from being 
outraged by the barbarian bandits. The condition of the 
people was indeed deplorable in the extreme. One of the 
Censors had sent a Memorial to Jehol, reproaching the 
Emperor for the pass to which he had brought his people, 
and for the neglect of ancestral worship caused by his 
absence. He blamed His Majesty for listening to evil 
advisers, and besought him to return to his capital. 

" The minds of the people were becoming more than ever 
disturbed, because it was now reported that the negotiations 
for peace had so far failed, either because Prince Kung would 
not entertain the barbarians' conditions, or because the latter 
were too utterly preposterous. 

" On the 6th, a despatch arrived from the British bar- 
barians, accusing China of having violated all civilised usage 
in torturing to death their fellow-countrymen. For this they 
demanded an indemnity of 500,000 taels. At the same time 
came a despatch from the Russian barbarians, saying that 
they had heard that England was demanding this indemnity, 
but they (the Russians) were prepared to use their influence 
and good offices to persuade the British to abate their claims. 
Prince Kung was of opinion that, even if they should be 
successful in this proposed mediation, China would only save 
some 100,000 taels, and for this she would place herself under 
heavy obligations to Russia. So he rephed, declining the 
offer on the ground that the British claim had already been 
accepted by China, and that further discussion of the matter 
was therefore impossible. Thereupon the Russians wrote 
again, saying that if China had definitely accepted the 
British terms there was, of course, nothing more to be said, 
but they asked Prince Kung to note that they had induced 
England to forgo half of the indemnity of two million taels 
originally asked, as a set-off* to China for the destruction of 
the Summer Palace. On the 9th, Prince Kung forwarded 
the 500,000 taels to the British barbarians. 

" The whole sixteen articles of the barbarians' demands 
have finally been accepted without modification. The only 
thing that our negotiators asked was the immediate with- 
drawal of the invading army, and to obtain this they were 
prepared to yield everything. Therefore, the barbarians 

23 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

openly flout China for her lack of men. Woe is me ; a 
pitiful tale, and one hard to tell ! When the Yi concubine 
heard of Prince Kung's complete surrender to the barbarians 
she reproached the Emperor for allowing his brother to 
negotiate, and she implored him to re-open hostilities. But 
His Majesty was dangerously ill, and refused to leave Jehol, 
so that our revenge must be postponed for the time being." 

Bearing in mind the frequent allusions made by the 
Hanlin diarist to the Emperor's indecision of purpose at 
the time of the advance of the British and French armies on 
Peking, it is reasonable to assume that Yehonala prompted, 
if she did not write, the following vigorous Edict, which 
appeared on the 3rd day of the 8th Moon in the 10th year of 
Hsien-Feng (6th September 1860) : — 

" Swaying the wide world, we are nevertheless animated 
by one and the same instinct of benevolence to all. We 
have never forbidden England and France to trade with 
China, and for long years there has been peace between them 
and us. But three years ago the English, for no good 
cause, invaded our city of Canton, and carried off our 
officials into captivity. We refrained at that time from 
taking any retaliatory measures, because we were compelled 
to recognise that the obstinacy of the Viceroy Yeh had 
been in some measure a cause of the hostilities. Two years 
ago the barbarian Commander Elgin came north, and we 
then commanded the Viceroy of Chihli, T'an Ting-hsiang, to 
look into matters preparatory to negotiations. But the 
barbarian took advantage of our unreadiness, attacking the 
Taku forts and pressing on to Tientsin. Being anxious 
to spare our people the horrors of war, we again refrained 
from retaliation and ordered Kuei Liang to discuss terms 
of peace. Notwithstanding the outrageous nature of the 
barbarians' demands, we subsequently ordered Kuei Liang 
to proceed to Shanghai in connection with the proposed 
Treaty of Commerce, and even permitted its ratification as 
earnest of our good faith. 

" In spite of all this the barbarian leader Bruce again 
displayed intractability of the most unreasonable kind and 

24 



THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

once more appeared off Taku with a squadron of warships 
in the 8th Moon. Seng Ko Lin Ch'in thereupon attacked him 
fiercely and compelled him to make a hasty retreat. From 
all these facts it is clear that China has committed no breach 
of faith and that the barbarians have been in the wrong. 
During the present year the barbarian leaders Elgin and 
Gros have again appeared off our coasts, but China, un- 
willing to resort to extreme measures, agreed to their 
landing and permitted them to come to Peking for the 
ratification of the Treaty. 

"Who could have believed that all this time these barbarians 
have been darkly plotting and that they had brought with 
them an army of soldiers and artillery, with which they 
attacked the Taku forts from the rear, and, having driven 
out our forces, advanced upon Tientsin ! Once more we 
ordered Kuei Liang to go to Tientsin and endeavour to 
reason with them, in the hope that they might not be lost to 
all sense of propriety, and with the full intention that 
their demands, if not utterly unreasonable, should be 
conceded. To our utter astonishment, Elgin and his 
colleague had the audacity to demand an indemnity from 
China ; they asked, too, that more Treaty ports should be 
opened, and that they should be allowed to occupy our 
capital with their army. To such lengths did their brutality 
and cunmng lead them ! But we then commanded Prince 
Yi and Mu Yin, the President of the Board of War, to 
endeavour to induce in them a more reasonable spirit and to 
come to some satisfactory arrangement. But these treach- 
erous barbarians dared to advance their savage soldiery 
towards Tungchow and to announce their intention of 
compelling us to receive them in audience. 

"Any further forbearance on our part would be a dereliction 
of our duty to the Empire, so that we have now commanded 
our armies to attack them with all possible energy and 
we have directed the local gentry to organise train-bands, 
and with them either to join in the attack or to block the 
barbarians' advance. Hereby we make offer of the following 
rewards : — For the head of a black barbarian, 50 taels, 
and for the head of a white barbarian, 100 taels. For the 
capture of a barbarian leader, alive or dead, 500 taels, and for 

25 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

the seizure or destruction of a barbarian vessel, 5,000 taels. 
The inhabitants of Tientsin are reputed brave. Let them 
now come forward and rid us of these pestilential savages, 
either by open attack or by artifice. We are no lovers 
of war, but all our people must admit that this has been 
forced upon us. 

" As to the barbarians' seizure of portions of our territory 
in Kuangtung and Fukhien, all our subjects are alike our 
children and we will issue large rewards to any of them 
in the south who shall present us with the head of a 
barbarian chief. 

" These barbarians live in the remote parts of the earth, 
whence they come to China for purposes of trade. Their 
outrageous proceedings have, we understand, been en- 
couraged by abominable traitors among our own subjects. 
We now command that all the Treaty ports be closed 
and all trade with England and France stopped. Subjects 
of other submissive States are not to be molested, and 
whensoever the British and French repent them of their 
evil ways and return to their allegiance, we shall be pleased 
to permit them to trade again, as of old, so that our 
clemency may be made manifest. But should they persist 
in their wicked violation of every right principle, our armies 
must mightily smite them, and pledge themselves solemnly 
to destroy utterly these evil-doers. May they repent while 
yet there is time ! " 

Three days later Yehonala was present at the morning 
audience, when the Emperor made the following state- 
ment : — 

" We learn that the barbarians continue to press upon 
our capital. Their demands were all complied with, yet 
they insist upon presenting to us in person their barbarous 
documents of credentials, and demand that Prince Seng 
shall withdraw his troops from Chang-Chia wan. Such 
insolence as this makes further parley impossible. Prince 
Seng has gained one great victory already, and now his 
forces are holding the enemy in check at Palich'iao." 

Orders were issued that the landing of troops from 

26 



THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

the warships which had appeared off Kinchou should be 
stoutly resisted. 

On the 7th of the Moon His Majesty sacrificed at 
the Temple of Confucius, but on the next morning he 
was afraid to come into the city from the Summer Palace, 
although he wished to sacrifice to the tutelary deities and 
inform them of his intended departure. Early on the 
following day Prince Kung was appointed Plenipotentiary in 
the place of Prince Yi (Tsai Yiian) and the Emperor, 
despite the brave wording of his Decree, fled from the 
capital, after making obeisance to the God of War in a 
small temple of the Palace grounds. In the Decree 
announcing his departure, the flight was described as an 
" autumn tour of inspection." ^ 

The Court started in utter confusion, but proceeded only 
some eighteen miles on the road northwards from Peking, 
stopping for the first night in a small temple. Here a Decree 
was issued calling upon all the Manchurian troops to hasten 
to Jehol for the protection of the Court. On the evening of 
the following day a Memorial was received from Prince 
Kung, reporting on the latest doings of the barbarians, 
but His Majesty ordered him, in reply, to take whatever 
steps he might think fit to deal with the situation. It 
was out of the question, said the Rescript, for the Emperor 
to decide on any course of action at a distance : in other 
words, the Throne divested itself of further responsibility. 

On the 11th, the Court lay at the Imperial hunting lodge 
north of Mi-Yun hsien. The Chinese chronicler records that 
the Emperor was too sick to receive the Grand Council, and 
delegated his duties to Yehonala, who thereupon issued the 
following Decree : — 

" We are informed that the pestilent barbarians are 
pressing upon our capital, and our Ministers have asked us to 

1 The same euphemism was employed to describe the Court's flight in 
August 1900. 

27 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

summon reinforcements from the provinces. Now the 
highest form of miHtary art is to effect sudden surprises, 
carefully pre-arranged. The barbarians' superiority lies in 
their firearms, but if we can only bring them to a hand-to- 
hand engagement they will be unable to bring their artillery 
to bear, and thus shall our victory be assured. The Mongol 
and Manchu horsemen are quite useless for this kind of 
warfare, but the men of Hupei and Ssii-ch'uan are as agile as 
monkeys and adepts at the use of cover in secret approaches. 
Let them but surprise these bandits once, and their rout is 
inevitable. Therefore let Tseng Kuo-fan, the Viceroy of 
Hukuang, send up at least three thousand of his best troops to 
Peking, and let as many be despatched from Ssu-ch'uan. 
Prince Seng's troops have been defeated again and again, and 
the capital is m great danger. At such a crisis as this, there 
must be no delay ; it is our earnest hope that a sufficient 
force will speedily be collected, so that we may be rid of this 
poisonous fever-cloud. For bravery and good service, there 
will be great rewards. A most important Decree." 

At the Court's halting place at Pa-Ko shih, close to the 
Great Wall, a Memorial came in from Prince Seng Ko 
Lin Ch'in, stating that small scouting parties of the barbarian 
troops had been seen in the neighbourhood of Peking, but 
that as yet there had been no general bombardment. A 
Rescript was issued as follows : — 

" Inasmuch as it would appear that the pertinacity of 
these barbarians will only increase with opposition, it seems 
desirable to come to terms with them as soon as possible. 
With reference to the French barbarian Gros's petition to be 
permitted to discuss matters with Prmce Kung in person, at 
Peking, we command the Prince to receive him. But 
should the bandits attempt to approach the city in force, 
Prince Seng should take them in the rear and cut off 
their retreat. If by any chance, however, Peking should be 
already taken, let the Mongol regiments be sent up to the 
Great Wall for the protection of our person." 

After a leisurely journey, the Court reached Jehol on the 
18th. On the 20th, the opinion of the advisers of the 

28 



THE FLIGHT TO JEHOL 

Emperor seemed to be in favour of continuing the war at 
all costs. A Decree was issued, referring to the fact that 
the foreign troops had dared to encamp near the Summer 
Palace, and forbidding Prince Kung to spare the lives of 
any captured barbarians upon any pretext whatsoever. To 
this Prince Kung replied stating that the prisoners had 
already been released and that the Anting gate had been 
surrendered to the foreigners. Prince Kung, in fact, was 
statesman enough to realise that the only chance for China 
lay in submission ; he therefore ignored the Imperial Decrees. 
Before long the Emperor was persuaded to allow negotiations 
to be resumed, and on the 15th of the 9th Moon he 
confirmed the Treaty, which had been signed in Peking, in 
the following Edict : — 

" Prince Kung, duly appointed by us to be Plenipotentiary, 
concluded, on the 11th and 12th days of this Moon, Treaties 
of Peace with the British and the French. Hereafter 
amity is to exist between our nations in perpetuity, and 
the various conditions of the Treaty are to be strictly 
observed by all." 



29 



Ill 

THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

It was originally intended that the Emperor Hsien-Feng 
should return from Jehol to Peking in the spring of 1861, 
and a Decree was issued to that effect. In January, however, 
his illness had become so serious that travelling was out of 
the question, and this Decree was rescinded. 

At Jehol, removed from the direct influence of his brothers, 
and enfeebled by sickness, the Emperor had gradually fallen 
under the domination of the Prince Yi (Tsai Yiian) with 
whom were associated, as Grand Councillors, the Prince 
Tuan Hua and the Imperial Clansman Su Shun. These 
three, recognising that the Emperor's end was near and that 
a Regency would be necessary, determined on securing the 
power for themselves. Prince Yi was nominally the leader 
of this conspiracy, but its instigator and leading spirit was 
Su Shun. Tuan Hua, whose family title was Prince Cheng, 
was the head of one of the eight princely Manchu famiUes, 
descended in the direct line from Nurhachu's brother. Su 
Shun was foster-brother to this Prince. In his youth he was 
a conspicuous figure in the capital, famous for his Mohawk 
tendencies, a wild blade, addicted to hawking and riotous 
living. He had originally been recommended to the notice 
of the Emperor by the two Princes and soon won his way 
into the dissolute monarch's confidence and goodwill. From 
a junior post in the Board of Revenue, he rose rapidly, 
becoming eventually an Assistant Grand Secretary, in which 

30 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

capacity he attained an unenviable reputation for avarice 
and cruelty. He had made himself hated and feared by 
persuading the Emperor to order the decapitation of his 
chief, the Grand Secretary Po Chun,^ on the pretext that 
he had shown favouritism as Chief Examiner for the Metro- 
politan Degree, — the real reason being that he had 
offended the two Princes by his uncompromising honesty 
and blunt speech. It was at this period that he first came 
into conflict with the young Yehonala, who, dreading the 
man's growing influence with the Emperor, endeavoured to 
counteract it, and at the same time to save the life of the 
Grand Secretary ; she failed in the attempt, and Su Shun's 
position became the stronger for her failure. All those who 
opposed him were speedily banished or degraded. The 
Court was terrified, especially when it was realised that 
Yehonala was out of favour, and Su Shun took care to give 
them real and frequent cause for alarm. At his instance, all 
the Secretaries of the Board of Revenue were cashiered on a 
charge of making illicit profits by cornering the cash market. 
The charge was possibly well-founded, since such proceed- 
ings are part of a Metropolitan official's recognised means 
of subsistence, but coming from the notoriously corrupt Su 
Shun, it was purely vindictive, as was shown by his subse- 
quent action; for upon this charge he obtained the arrest 
of over a hundred notables and rich merchants whom he 
kept in custody of no gentle kind until they had ransomed 
themselves with enormous sums. Thus was founded the 
great fortune which enabled him to conspire with the Princes 
Yi and Cheng ^ for the supreme power, and which led him 
eventually to his ruin. To this day, many of his millions lie 
in the Palace vaults, to which they were carried after his 
impeachment and death — millions carefully hoarded by Tzii 
Hsi and buried during the Court's flight and exile in 1900. 

1 Grandfather of Na T'ung, the present head of the Waiwupu. 

2 Yi " and Cheng " are honorific names, meaning respectively " harmon- 
ious " and " sedate." 

31 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

It was chiefly because of the advice of Su Shun that the 
Emperor fled his capital at the approach of the Allies, in 
spite of the urgent appeals of Yehonala and the Grand 
Council. By his advice also most of the high officials and 
Metropolitan Ministers w^ere prevented from accompanying 
the Court, by which means the conspirators were able to 
exercise steadily increasing influence over the Emperor, and 
to prevent other advice reaching him. It was only the 
supreme courage and intelligent grasp of the situation shown 
by Yehonala, that frustrated the conspiracy at its most 
critical moment. Immediately after the death of the Emperor, 
and while the plotters were still undecided as to their final 
plans, she sent an urgent message secretly to Prince Kung 
which brought him with all speed to Jehol, where, by the 
help of Jung Lu and other loyal servants, she put into 
execution the bold plan which defeated the conspiracy and 
placed her at the head of China's government. On the day 
when, the game hopelessly lost, the usurping Regents found 
themselves in Yehonala's hands and heard her order their 
summary trial by the Court of the Imperial Clan, Su Shun 
turned to his colleagues and bitterly reproached them. 
" Had you but taken my advice and slain this woman," he 
said, " we should not have been in this plight to-day." 

To return, however, to the beginning of the conspiracy. 
At the outset, the object of Prince Yi was to ahenate the 
Emperor from the influence of his favourite concubine, 
Yehonala. With this object they informed him of the 
intrigue which, by common report, she was carrying on with 
the young Officer of the Guards, Jung Lu, then a handsome 
athletic man of about twenty-five. The Empress Consort 
they regarded as a negligible factor, whose good-natured and 
colourless personality took little interest in the poHtics of the 
day ; but if their plot was to succeed, Yehonala must either 
be dismissed from the Court for good and all, or, at the very 
least, she must be temporarily relegated to the " Cold Palace," 
as is called the place where insubordinate or disgraced 

32 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

concubines are isolated. They knew that, however successful 
their plans at Jehol, there must always be danger in the 
event of the Emperor returning to Peking, where access to 
his person is not possible at all times for officials (even those 
nearest to the Throne), whereas Yehonala would be in a 
position, with the help of her eunuchs, to recover his favour 
and her power. Emphasising, therefore, the alleged miscon- 
duct of the young concubine, they quoted the precedent of 
a certain Empress Consort of Ch'ien-Lung who, for less 
grievous disrespect (shown to the Emperor's mother), was 
imprisoned for life. Thus, by inventions and suggestions, 
they so worked on the sick man's mind that he finally 
consented to have Yehonala's infant son, the Heir Apparent, 
removed from her care, and authorised the child's being 
handed over to the wife of Prince Yi, who was summoned 
to the hunting-lodge Palace for that purpose. At the 
same time, the conspirators thought it well to denounce 
Prince Kung to the Emperor, his brother, accusing him of 
treachery, of conniving with the foreigners against the 
Throne, and of abusing his powers as Plenipotentiary. 
Prince Yi had been for years Prince Kung's sworn enemy. 

The further intentions of the conspirators, instigated by 
Su Shun, were to massacre all Europeans in the capital and 
to put to death, or at least imprison for life, the Emperor's 
brothers. Accordingly they drafted in advance the Decrees 
necessary to justify and explain these measures, intending to 
publish them immediately after the Emperor's death, which 
was now imminent. But here an unforeseen obstacle 
presented itself, the first of many created for them by the 
far-seeing intelligence of Yehonala ; for they found that 
she had somehow managed to possess herself of the special 
seal, which inviolable custom requires to be affixed to the first 
Edict of a new reign, in proof of validity of succession, — a 
seal, in the personal custody of the Emperor, which bears 
the characters meaning "lawfully transmitted authority." 
Without this seal, any Decrees which the usurpers might 

33 D 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

issue would lack something of legal finality and, according 
to Chinese ideas, their subsequent cancellation would be 
justifiable. But Prince Yi did not feel himself strong 
enough to risk a crisis by accusing her or taking overt steps 
to gain possession of it. 

Angry with his favourite concubine by reason of the 
reports of her intimacy with Jung Lu, and his sickness ever 
increasing, the Emperor lingered on in Jehol all the summer 
of that year, his duty in the ancestral sacrifices at Peking 
being taken by Prince Kung. On the 4th of the 6th Moon, 
the day before his thirtieth birthday, he issued the follow- 
ing Decree in reply to a Memorial by the Court of Astro- 
nomers, which had announced an auspicious conjunction of 
the stars for the occasion : — 

" Last month the Astronomers announced the appearance 
of a comet in the north-west, which intimation we received 
as a solemn warning of the impending wrath of Heaven. 
Now they memorialise saying that the stars are in favourable 
conjunction, which is doubtless a true statement, in no way 
inspired by their desire to please us. But since we came to 
the Throne, we have steadily refused to pay any attention to 
auspicious omens, and this with good reason, in view of the 
ever-increasing rebellions in the south and the generally 
pitiable condition of our people. May the present auspicious 
conjunction of the stars portend the dawning of a happier 
day, and may heaven permit a speedy end to the rebellion. 
In token of our sincerity, we desire that the Astronomical 
Court shall refrain from reporting to the Chronicler's 
Office the present favourable omen for inclusion in the 
annals of our reign, so that there may be ascribed to us the 
merit of a devout and sober mind." 

On the following morning the Emperor received the 
congratulations of his Court in a pavilion of the Palace 
grounds, but Yehonala was excluded from this ceremony. 
This was His Majesty's last appearance in public ; from this 
date his illness became rapidly worse. 

34 - 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

On the 7th of the 7th Moon Yehonala contrived to 
despatch a secret courier to Prince Kung at Peking, 
informing him of the critical condition of his brother and 
urging him to send with all haste a detachment of the 
Banner Corps to which the Yehonala clan belonged. 
Events now moved swiftly. On the 16th, the Grand 
Councillors and Ministers of the Presence, all adherents of 
Tsai Yiian's faction, entered the Emperor's bedroom and, 
after excluding the Empress Consort and the concubines, 
persuaded the Emperor to sign Decrees appointing Tsai 
Yiian, Tuan Hua and Su Shun to be Co-Regents upon his 
decease, with full powers. Yehonala was to be expressly 
forbidden from exercising any form of control over the Heir 
Apparent. As the necessary seal of State had been taken by 
Yehonala and could not be found, these proceedings were 
irregular. At dawn on the following day the Emperor died, 
and forthwith appeared the usual valedictory Decree, 
prepared in advance by the conspirators, whereby Tsai Yiian 
was appointed to be Chief Regent, Prince Kung and the 
Empress Consort being entirely ignored. 

In the name of the new Emperor, then a child of five, a 
Decree was issued, announcing his succession, but it was 
observed to violate all constitutional precedent in that it 
omitted the proper laudatory references to the Imperial 
Consort. On the following day, however, the Regents, 
fearing to precipitate matters, rectified the omission in an 
Edict which conferred the rank of Empress Dowager both 
on the Empress Consort and on Yehonala. The chroniclers 
aver that the reason for this step lay in the Regents' 
recognition of Yehonala's undoubted popularity with the 
troops (all Manchus) at Jehol, an argument that weighed 
more heavily with them than her rights as mother of the 
Heir Apparent. They hoped to rid themselves of this 
condition of affairs after the Court's return to Peking, but 
dared not risk internal dissensions by having her removed 
until their positions had been made secure at the capital. 

35 D 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

That they intended to remove her was subsequently proved ; 
it was evident that their position would never be secure so 
long as her ambitious and magnetic personality remained a 
factor of the situation : but it was necessary, in the first 
instance, to ascertain the effect of the Regency at Peking 
and in the provinces. 

Tsai Yiian's next move was to publish Decrees, in the 
names of the Joint Regents, by virtue of which they 
assumed charge of the Heir Apparent and by which the 
title of " Chien Kuo " (practically equivalent to Dictator) 
was conferred on the Chief Regent, a title heretofore 
reserved exclusively for brothers or uncles of the Emperor. 

When the news reached Peking, a flood of Memorials 
burst from the Censorate and high officials. The child 
Emperor was implored to confer the Regency upon the 
two Empresses, or, as the Chinese text has it, to 
"administer the Government with suspended curtain."^ 
Prince Kung and the Emperor's other brothers were at 
this time in secret correspondence with Yehonala, whom 
they, like the Censorate, had already recognised as the 
master-mind of the Forbidden City. They urged her to 
do all in her power to expedite the departure of the 
funeral cortege for the capital. To secure this end, it was 
necessary to proceed with the greatest caution and 
diplomacy, for several of the late Emperor's wives had been 
won over to the side of the usurpers, who could also count 
on a certain number of the Manchu bodyguard, their 
own clansmen. The influence of Su Shun's great fortune 
was also no inconsiderable factor in the situation. The man 
was personally unpopular with the people of Peking, because 
of his abuse of power and too frequent connection with 
speculations in bank-note issues and cash, which cost 
the citizens dear, but his vaults were known to be fuU 

^ The expression has reference to the fact that the Empresses Regent are 
supposed to be concealed from the sight of Ministers at audience by a 
curtain suspended in front of the Throne. 

36 




Her Majesty Tzu Hsi in the Year 1903. 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

to over-flowing, and there is no city in the world where 
money buys more political supporters than in Peking. Su 
Shun's career has had its counterpart, in everything except 
its sanguinary denouement, in the capital to-day. 

At the moment the position of the Emperor's family was 
prejudiced, and the aims of the conspirators assisted, by the 
pohtical situation. With the capital occupied by foreign 
troops, and many of the provinces in the throes of a great 
rebeUion, the people might be expected to welcome a change 
of rulers, and the ripe experience of the usurping Regents 
in all matters of State was undeniable. But the virile and 
untiring energies of Yehonala, ably supported by Jung Lu 
and other faithful followers, soon put a new complexion on 
affairs, and the situation was farther modified in her favour 
by the success of her nominee, the Commander-in-Chief, 
Tseng Kuo-fan, m capturing the city of An-ch'ing (in Anhui) 
from the rebels, a victory that was regarded as of good augury 
to her cause. Thereafter her courage and diplomacy enabled 
her to play off one opponent against another, gaining time 
and friends until the conspirators' chance was gone. Her 
own aims and ambitions, which had been voiced by her 
friends in the Censorate, were, however, to some extent 
impeded by the fact that a House-law of the Dynasty forbids 
the administration of the Government by an Empress 
Dowager, while there were quite recent precedents for a 
Regency by a Board, in the cases of the Emperors Shun- 
Chih and K'ang-Hsi. In neither of these instances had the 
Empress Tai-Tsung had any voice in the Government. The 
precedent for Boards of official Regents had, however, come 
to be recognised as inauspicious, because the several Regents 
of K'ang-Hsi's minority had either been banished or com- 
pelled to commit suicide. It is probable, too, that Prince 
Kung, in instigating and supporting the claims of the 
Empresses, failed to appreciate Yehonala's strength of 
character, and believed that a women's Regency would leave 
the supreme power in his own hands. 

37 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

A Manchu, who accompanied the flight to Jehol, describ- 
ing his experiences, lays stress upon Yehonala's unfaiHng 
courage and personal charm of manner, to which was due 
her popularity with the Imperial Guards and her eventual 
triumph. At the most critical period of the conspiracy she 
was careful to avoid precipitating a conflict or arousing the 
suspicions of the usurpers by openly conferring with Jung Lu, 
and she employed as her confidential intermediary the eunuch 
An Te-hai (of whom more will be heard later). By means of 
this man daily reports were safely despatched to Prince Kung 
at Peking, and, in the meanwhile, Yehonala affected an 
attitude of calm indifference, treating Prince Yi with a 
studied deference which luUed his suspicions. 

On the 11th of the 8th Moon, the Board of Regents, after 
meeting to discuss the situation, issued a Decree con- 
demning in strong terms a proposal put forward in a 
Memorial by the Censor, Tung Yiian-ch'un, that the two 
Empresses should be appointed Co-Regents, and referring 
to the death-bed Decree of the late Emperor as their own 
warrant of authority. At the same time they announced, 
in the name of the young Emperor, that the funeral cortege 
would start on its journey to the capital on the second day 
of the next Moon. This was the step for which Yehonala 
had been working and waiting. As Ministers of the Presence, 
the Regents were perforce obhged to accompany the coffin 
throughout the entire journey (some 150 miles) to the capital, 
and the great weight of the catafalque, borne by one hundred 
and twenty men, would necessarily render the rate of pro- 
gress very slow through the stony defiles of the hills. Rest- 
ing places would have to be provided at stages of about fifteen 
miles along the route to shelter the Imperial remains and the 
attendant officials by night, so that the Regents might count 
on a journey of ten days at least, and longer in the event of 
bad weather. To the Empresses, the slow progress of the 
cortege was a matter of vital advantage, inasmuch as they 
were not to take part in the procession, and, travelling 

38 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

ahead of it, could reach the capital in five days with swift 
chair-bearers. Dynastic custom and Court etiquette prescribe 
that upon the departure of the funeral procession, the new 
Emperor and the consorts of the deceased sovereign should 
offer prayers and libations, and should then press on so as to 
be ready to perform similar acts of reverence on meeting the 
cortege at its destination. Yehonala thus found herself in 
a position of great strategic advantage, being enabled to reach 
the capital well in advance of her enemies, and she speedily 
laid her plans with Prince Kung to give them a warm 
reception. 

Tsai Yiian and his colleagues were well aware that they 
were placed at grave disadvantage in having to remain 
behind the young Empress, with every prospect of serious 
trouble ahead ; they, therefore, decided to have Yehonala 
and the Empress Consort assassinated on the road, and to 
that end gave orders that they should be escorted by the 
Chief Regent's personal bodyguard. Had it not been for 
Jung Lu, who got wind of the plot, the Dowagers would 
assuredly never have reached the capital ahve. Acting with 
the promptitude which Yehonala inspired, he deserted the 
funeral cortege by night with a considerable following of his 
own men, and hastened on to the protection of the Empresses, 
overtaking them before they reached Ku-pei K'ou, at the end 
of the pass from the plains into Mongolia, which was the 
spot where the assassination was to have taken place. 

Heavy rains had fallen just after the departure of the 
procession from Jehol. The roads became impassable, and 
the Empresses were compelled to seek shelter in the Long 
Mountain gorge, where no sort of accommodation had 
been provided. The cortege was then ten miles in their 
rear. Yehonala, mindful ever of the proprieties, sent 
back several men of her escort with a dutiful enquiry, in the 
name of her colleague and herself, as to the safety of the 
Imperial coffin. The reply, in the form of an Edict by 
Prince Yi and his Co-Regents, reported that the catafalque 

39 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

had reached the first resting place in safety ; whereupon 
Yehonala, asserting as of right the prerogatives of supreme 
authority, donated to the bearers a thousand taels from her 
Privy Purse in recognition of their arduous services. 
Prince Yi, knovsdng full well that his own danger was 
increasing every hour, and would continue so long as the 
Empresses remained free to work against him, nevertheless 
played bravely the part prescribed for him, conforming in 
the grand manner to the traditions of his position. He for- 
warded a Memorial to the Empresses, humbly thanking 
them for their solicitude for the Emperor's remains. 
Yehonala, in reply, praised him for his faithful devotion to 
duty. Thus, on the road to Death, they played at Etiquette. 
Both these documents are filed in the Dynastic records and 
afford remarkable evidence of the supreme importance which 
Chinese and Manchus ahke attach to forms and the written 
word even at the most critical moments. Similar instances 
could be cited at the height of the Boxer chaos. 

The rains having ceased, the Empresses were able to 
proceed on their journey, and having come safely through 
the hill passes under Jung Lu's protection, they were free 
from further danger of ambush. They reached Peking on 
the 29th of the 9th Moon, three full days' journey ahead of 
the procession. Immediately upon their arrival a secret 
Council was held, at which were present the Emperor's 
brothers, together with the Ministers and Imperial clansmen 
known to be loyal to their cause. Long and anxiously did 
they confer. Although the Empress Mother was in posses- 
sion of the seal of legitimate succession, there was no known 
precedent for so drastic a step as the summary, and possibly 
violent, arrest of high officers of State convoying the 
Imperial coffin. Such a course, it was felt, would be 
regarded as disrespectful to the late Emperor and an in- 
auspicious opening to the new reign. The consensus of 
opinion was, therefore, on the side of slow and cautious 
measures, and it was decided thus to proceed, conforming to 

40 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

all the outward observances of dynastic tradition. The 
coffin once arrived, the first step would be to deprive the 
Kegents of their usurped authority ; the rest would follow. 

The cortege was due to arrive at the north-west gate 
of the city on the morning of the 2nd of the 10th Moon, 
and on the previous evening Prince Kung posted a large 
force of troops at this point to prevent any attempt at a 
coup de main by Tsai Yiian's followers. The boy Emperor, 
accompanied by the Empresses Dowager, came out to meet 
the coffin as it approached the city, and with him were 
the late Emperor's brothers and a great following of officials. 
As the catafalque passed through the gate, the Imperial 
party knelt and performed the prescribed acts of reverence. 
Before the coffin came the Imperial insignia, and behind 
it a large body of Manchu cavalry. Prince Yi and his 
Co-Regents, having performed their duty in bringing the 
coffin safely to the city, next proceeded, as required by 
custom, to make formal report in person to the young 
Emperor, upon fulfilment of their charge. For this purpose 
they were received in a large marquee erected just inside the 
city gate. Both Empresses were present, together with the 
late Emperor's brothers and the Grand Secretaries Kuei 
Liang and Chou Tsu-p'ei. 

Yehonala, calmly assuming, as was her wont, the principal 
role and all attributes of authority, opened the proceedings 
by informing Prince Yi that the Empress Consort and 
she herself were grateful to him and to his colleagues for 
the services which they had rendered as Regents and 
Grand Councillors, of which duties they were now relieved. 
Prince Yi, putting a bold face on it, replied that he himself 
was Chief Regent, legally appointed, that the Empresses 
had no power to divest him of authority properly conferred 
by the late Emperor, and that, during the minority of 
the new Emperor, neither she herself nor any other person 
was entitled to attend audience without his express per- 
mission. 

41 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" We shall see about that," said Yehonala, and forthwith 
gave orders to the attendant guards to place the three 
Regents under arrest. The Imperial party then hastened to 
the Palace to be ready to meet the coffin upon its arrival at 
the main entrance to the Forbidden City, for, however 
acute the crisis, the dead take precedence of the living 
in China. The deposed Regents quietly followed. AU 
hope of escape or resistance was out of the question, for 
the streets were lined with troops faithful to Yehonala's 
cause. Her triumph was complete, essentially a triumph of 
mind over matter. It was her first taste of the pomp 
and circumstance of supreme power. 

Forthwith the Empresses proceeded to regularise their 
position by issuing the following Decree, which bore the 
Great Seal of " Lawfully transmitted authority " : — 

" Last year the coasts of our Empire were disturbed 
and our capital was in danger, misfortunes entirely due 
to the mismanagement of affairs by the Princes and Minis- 
ters to whom they had been entrusted. Prince Yi (Tsai 
Yiian) in particular and his colleagues failed to deal satis- 
factorily with the peace negotiations, and sought to lessen 
their responsibility by their treacherous arrest of the British 
emissaries, thus involving China in charges of bad faith. 
In consequence of these their acts, the Summer Palace was 
eventually sacked by the British and French troops and the 
Emperor was forced, greatly against his will, to seek refuge 
in Jehol. 

"Later, the Ministers of the newly established Tsungli 
Yam§n were able to arrange matters satisfactorily, and 
peace was restored to the capital. Thereupon His late 
Majesty repeatedly summoned the Grand Council to decide 
upon a date for his return to Peking, but Tsai Yiian, Su 
Shun and Tuan Hua conspired together, and, by makiag him 
believe that England and France were not sincere in regard 
to peace, were able to prevent his return and thus to oppose 
the will of the people. 

" Subsequently His Majesty's health suffered severely from 
the cold climate of Jehol and from his arduous labours and 

42 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

anxiety, so that he died on the 17th of the 7th Moon. Our 
sorrow was even as a burning fire, and when we consider 
how wickedly deceitful has been the conduct of Tsai Yiian 
and his colleagues, we feel that the whole Empire must 
unite in their condemnation. On ascending the Throne, 
it was our intention to punish them, but we kept in mind 
the fact that to them the Emperor had given his valedictory 
instructions, and we therefore forbore, whilst observing 
carefully their behaviour. Who could possibly have foretold 
their misdeeds ? 

" On the 11th of the 8th Moon, a Memorial was presented 
to us by the Censor Tung Ylian-ch'un, at an audience of the 
eight Grand Councillors, in which it was asked that the 
Empresses Dowager should for the time being, and during 
our minority, administer the Government, that one or two of 
the Princes should advise them and that a high official 
should be appointed as tutor to ourselves. These suggestions 
met with our entire approval. It is true that there exists no 
precedent in the history of our Dynasty for an Empress 
Dowager to act as Regent, but the interests of the State are 
our first concern, and it is surely wiser to act in accordance 
with the exigencies of the time than to insist upon a 
scrupulous observance of precedent.^ 

"We therefore authorised Tsai Yiian to issue a Decree 
concurring in the Censor's proposals ; but he and his colleagues 
adopted an insolent tone towards us and forgot the reverence 
due to our person. While pretending to comply with our 
wishes, they issued a Decree quite different from that which 
we had ordered, and promulgated it in our name. What was 
their object ? They professed to have no idea of usurping 
our authority, but what else was their action but usurpation ? 

"Undoubtedly they took advantage of our extreme 
youth and of the Empresses' lack of experience in statecraft, 
their object being to hoodwink us. But how could they 
hope to hoodwink the entire nation ? Their behaviour 
displays monstrous ingratitude for His late Majesty's favours, 
and any further leniency on our part would be a just cause 

^ The age of the Emperor was less than six, but the solemn farce of his 
alleged acts and opinions is solemnly accepted by the Chinese as part of the 
eternal order of things. 

43 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

of offence to the memory of the departed sovereign, and an 
insult to the intelligence of the Chinese people. Tsai Yiian, 
Su Shun and Tuan Hua are hereby removed from their 
posts. Ching Shou, Mu Yin, Kuang Tu-han and Chiao 
Yu-ying are removed from the Grand Council. Let Prince 
Kung, in consultation with the Grand Secretaries, the six 
Boards and the nine Ministries consider, and report to us as 
to the proper punishment to be inflicted upon them, in 
proportion to their respective offences. As regards the 
manner in which the Empresses shall administer the 
Government as Regents, let this also be discussed and a 
Memorial submitted in reference to future procedure." 

The Empresses duly performed the proper obeisances 
to the Imperial coffin at the eastern gate of the Palace, 
escorting it thence to its temporary resting place in the 
central Throne Hall. 

In the security of Peking, and confident of the devotion 
of the troops, Yehonala now proceeded to act more boldly. 
She issued a second Decree in her own name and that of the 
Empress Consort, ordering that the three principal con- 
spirators be handed over to the Imperial Clansmen's Court 
for the determination of a severe penalty. Pending the 
investigation, which was to be carried out under the 
Presidency of Prince Kung, they were to be stripped of 
all their titles and rank. The vindictive autocrat of the 
years to come speaks for the first time in this Edict. 

" Their audacity in questioning our right to give audience 
to Prince Kung this morning shows a degree of wickedness 
inconceivable, and convicts them of the darkest designs. 
The punishment so far meted out to them is totally inade- 
quate to the depth of their guilt." 

Against Su Shun, in particular, the Empress's wrath 
burned fiercely. His wife had insulted her in the days 
of her disgrace at Jehol, and Yehonala had ever a good 
memory for insults. Next morning she issued the following 
Decree for his especial benefit : — 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

" Because of Su Shun's high treason, his wanton usur- 
pation of authority, his acceptance of bribes and generally 
unspeakable wickedness, we commanded that he be degraded 
and arrested by the Imperial Clansmen's Court. But on 
receipt of the Decree, Su Shun dared to make use of 
blasphemous language in regard to ourselves, forgetful of 
the inviolable relation between Sovereign and subject. Our 
hair stands on end with horror at such abominable treason. 
Moreover he has dared to allow his wife and family to 
accompany him, when on duty accompanying the Imperial 
coffin from Jehol, which is a most disgraceful violation of 
all precedent.^ The whole of his property, both at Peking 
and at Jehol, is therefore confiscated, and no mercy shall be 
shown him." 

As Su Shun's property was worth several millions sterling 
at the lowest estimate, the Empress Dowager thus acquired 
at one stroke the sinews of war and a substantial nucleus for 
that treasure hoard which henceforward was to be one of the 
main objects of her ambition, and a chief source of her 
power. During the present Dynasty there is a record of 
one official wealthier than Su Shun, namely Ho Sh'en, a 
Grand Secretary under Ch'ien Lung, whose property was 
similarly confiscated by that Emperor's successor. 

But Yehonala's lust of vengeance was not yet appeased. 
Her next Decree, issued on the following day, gives evidence 
of that acquisitive faculty, that tendency to accumulate 
property and to safeguard it with housewifely thrift, which 
distinguished her to the end : — 

" Su Shun was erecting for himself a Palace at Jehol, 
which is not yet completed. Doubtless he has vast stores of 
treasure there. Doubtless also he has buried large sums 
of gold and silver somewhere in the vicinity of his Jehol 
residence, in anticipation of the possible discovery of his 
crimes. Let all his property in Jehol be carefully inventoried, 
when a Decree will be issued as to its disposal. Let all his 

1 To allow women privily to accompany the Imperial cortege is a crime 
punishable by law with the penalty of the lingering death. 

45 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

property be carefully searched for treasure, to be handed 
over when found. Any attempt at concealment by the 
Jehol authorities will entail upon them the same punishment 
as that which is to be inflicted upon Su Shun." 

On the 6th of the 10th Moon, Prince Kung and the 
Imperial Commission sent in their report on the quite per- 
functory enquiry into the charges against Tsai Yiian and the 
other conspirators. In the following Decree the offenders 
were finally disposed of: — 

" The Memorial of our Imperial Commission recommends 
that, in accordance with the law applying to cases of high 
treason, the punishment of dismemberment and the lingering 
death be inflicted upon Tsai Yiian, Tuan Hua and Su Shun. 
Our Decrees have already been issued describing their 
abominable plot and their usurpation of the Regency. 

" On the day of His late Majesty's death, these three 
traitors claimed to have been appointed a Council of Regency, 
but, as a matter of fact. His late Majesty, just before his 
death, had commanded them to appoint us his successor, 
without giving them any orders whatsoever as to their being 
Regents. This title they proceeded to arrogate to themselves, 
even daring to issue orders in that capacity and without the 
formality of our Decree. Moreover they disobeyed the 
personal and express orders given them by the Empresses 
Dowager. When the Censor Tung Yiian-ch'un petitioned 
that the Empresses should assume the government, they not 
only dared to alter the Decree which we issued in reply, 
but they openly asserted at audience their claim to be our 
Regents and their refusal to obey the Empresses. If, said 
they, they chose to permit the Empresses to see Memorials, 
this was more than their duty required. In fact, their 
insubordination and violent rudeness found expression in a 
hundred ways. In forbidding us to give audience to our 
uncles and to the Grand Secretaries, they evidently meant 
to set us at variance with our kindred. The above remarks 
apply equally to all three traitors. 

" As to Su Shun, he insolently dared to seat himself upon 
the Imperial Throne. He would enter the Palace precincts 
unbidden, and whether on duty or not. He went so far as 

46 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

to use the Imperial porcelain and furniture for his own 
purposes, even refusing to hand over certain articles that 
we required for ourselves. He actually demanded an 
audience with the Empresses separately, and his words, when 
addressing them, indicated a cunning desire to set one 
Empress against the other, and to sow seeds of discord. 
These remarks apply to the individual guilt of Su Shun. 

" Her Majesty the Empress Dowager, and Her Sacred 
Majesty the Empress Dowager, our mother, duly informed 
the Commission of Enquiry of these facts, and they have 
to-day given audience to all the Princes and Ministers to 
enquire of them whether the guilt of these thi-ee traitors 
admits of any extenuating circumstances. It is unanimously 
determined that the law allows of no leniency being 
shown to such flagrant treason and wickedness as theirs. 
When we reflect that three members of our Imperial 
kindred have thus rendered themselves liable to a common 
felon's death in the pubhc square, our eyes are fiUed with 
tears. But all these their misdeeds, in usurping the Regency, 
have involved our tutelary deities in the direst peril, and it 
is not only to ourselves but to our iUustrious ancestors that 
they must answer for their damnable treason. No doubt 
they thought that, come what may, they were sure of pardon, 
because of their having received the mandate of His late 
Majesty, but they forgot that the mandate which they have 
claimed was never legally issued, and if we were now to 
pardon them we should render the law of no effect for all 
time and prove unfaithful to the trust reposed in us by our 
late father. The punishment of dismemberment and the 
lingering death, which the Commission recommends, is 
indeed the proper punishment for their crimes, but the 
House-law of our Dynasty permits of leniency being shown, 
to a certain extent, to members of the Imperial Family. 
Therefore, although, strictly speaking, their crimes aUow of 
no indulgence, we decide that they shall not suffer the 
penalty of public disgrace. In token of our leniency, 
Tsai Yiian and Tuan Hua are hereby permitted to commit 
suicide, and Prince Su and Mien Sen are ordered to proceed 
forthwith to the ' Empty Chamber,' ^ and command the 

1 The Prison of the Imperial Clan Court. 

47 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

immediate fulfilment of this order. It is not from any 
feeling of friendliness towards these traitors that we allow 
this, but simply to preserve the dignity of our Imperial 
family. 

As to Su Shun, his treasonable guilt far exceeds that of 
his accompUces, and he fully deserves the punishment of 
dismemberment and the slicing process, if only that the law 
may be vindicated and public indignation satisfied. But we 
cannot make up our mind to impose this extreme penalty 
and therefore, in our clemency, we sentence him to im- 
mediate decapitation, commanding Prince Jui and Tsai 
Liang to superintend his execution, as a warning to all 
traitors and rebels." 



Note. — The hereditary Princedoms of Yi and Cheng 
which were forfeited by the conspiring Princes after the 
death of Hsien-Feng, in 1861, were restored by the 
Empresses Regent to commemorate their thanksgiving at 
the suppression of the Taiping rebellion and the recapture 
of Nanking (1864). In an Edict on the subject, Tzu Hsi 
recalled the fact that the original patent of the Princedom 
of Yi was given to a son of the Emperor K'ang-Hsi in 1723 
and was to endure, according to the word of that Monarch, 
until " the T'ai Mountain dwindles to the size of a grindstone, 
and the Yellow River shrinks to the width of a girdle." 
After referring to the main features of the Tsai Yiian 
conspiracy and the guilt of the traitors, Tzu Hsi proceeded 
'* We permitted these Princes to commit suicide because 
they were ungrateful to ourselves, and had brought disrepute 
on the good name of their ancestors. If these are now 
conscious of their descendants' misdeeds, while they wander 
beside the Nine Springs,^ how great must be the anguish of 
their souls ! At the time we were advised by our Princes 
and Ministers of State, to put an end for ever to these 

1 Poetical term for Purgatory. 
48 



THE TSAI YUAN CONSPIRACY 

Princely titles, and we did so in order to appease widespread 
indignation. Since then, however, we have often thought 
sorrowfully of the achievements of these Princely families 
during the early reigns of our Dynasty, and now the triumph 
of our arms at Nanking provides us with a fitting occasion 
and excuse to rehabilitate these Princedoms, so that the 
good name of their founders may remain unblemished. We 
therefore hereby restore both titles as Princes of the blood 
with all the estates and dependencies appertaining thereto, 
and we command that the genealogical trees of these two 
Houses be once more placed upon our Dynastic records in 
their due order, it being always understood that the usurping 
Princes Tuan Hua and Tsai Ylian, together with their 
descendants in the direct Hne for two generations, are 
expressly excluded from participation in these restored 
privileges. Original patents of the Princes of Yi and Cheng 
are hereby restored, together with their titles, to the Dukes 
Cheng Chih and Tsai Tun. And take heed now both of you 
Princes, lest you fall away from the ancient virtue of your 
Houses ! See to it that you long continue to enjoy our 
favour by adding fresh lustre to your ancestral good name ! " 

The intention was undoubtedly well meant, but the 
Houses of Yi and Cheng continued to incur the displeasure 
of the gods. The next Prince Yi but one, was permitted 
to commit suicide in 1900, for alleged compHcity in the 
Boxer rising, but it is significant that his name was not on 
any Black List drawn up by the foreign Powers, and that 
his death was due to his having incurred the displeasure of 
the Old Buddha at a time when her nerves were not parti- 
cularly good, and when she was therefore liable to hasty 
decisions. As to the House of Cheng, the holder of the 
title in 1900 committed suicide on the day when the Allies 
entered the city, a disappointed patriot of the best Manchu 
model. 

Tzu Hsi's wrath against Su Shun found further vent three 
years after his death in a Decree which debarred his sons 

49 E 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

and descendants from ever holding public office, this 
punishment being inflicted on the ground that he had 
allowed personal spite to influence him, when consulted 
by the Emperor Hsien-Feng regarding the penalty to be 
inflicted on an offending rival. 



50 



IV 
THE FIRST REGENCY 

Although the collapse of the Tsai Yiian conspiracy, and 
the stern justice administered to its leaders, rendered 
Yehonala's position secure and made her de facto ruler of 
the Empire (for her colleague was, politically speaking, 
a neghgible quantity, or nearly so), she was extremely 
careful, during the first years of the Regency, to avoid all 
conspicuous assumption of power and to keep herself and 
her ambitions in the background, wliile she omitted no 
opportunity of improving her knowledge of the art of 
government and of gaining the support of China's leading 
officials. For this reason all the Decrees of this period 
are issued in the name of the Emperor, and Tzu Hsi's 
assumption of authority was even less conspicuous than 
during her period of retirement at the Summer Palace after 
the conclusion of Kuang-Hsli's minority. The first Regency 
(1861-1873) may be described as Tzii Hsi's tentative period 
of rule, in which she tasted the sweets, while avoiding the 
appearance, of power. During the second Regency (1875- 
1889), while her name appeared only occasionally as the 
author of Imperial Decrees, she was careful to keep in her 
hands all official appointments, the granting of rewards and 
punishments and other matters of internal politics calculated 
to increase her personal popularity and prestige with the 
mandarinate. The "curtain was not suspended" during 

51 E 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Kuang-Hsii's minority, as he was the nominee of the 
Empresses, whereas the Emperor T'ung-Chih held his man- 
date direct from the late Emperor, his father. It was not 
until the final Regency (1898-1908), which was not a 
Regency at all in the strict sense of the word but an 
usurpation of the Imperial prerogative during the lifetime of 
the sovereign, that, assured of the strength of her position, 
she gave full rein to her love of power and, with something of 
the contempt which springs from long familiarity, took unto 
herself all the outward and visible signs of Imperial authority, 
holding audience daily in the Great Hall of the Palace, 
seated on the Dragon Throne, with the puppet Emperor 
relegated to a position of inferiority, recognised and 
acclaimed as the Old Buddha, the sole and undisputed ruler 
of the Empire. 

At the outset of her career, she appears to have reahsed 
that the idea of female rulers had never been popular with 
the Chinese people ; that even the Empress Wu of the 
eighth century, the greatest woman in Chinese history, was 
regarded as a usurper. She was aware that the Empress 
Lii (whose character, as described by historians, was not 
unhke her own), to whom was due the consolidation of 
power that marked the rise of the Han Dynasty, enjoys but 
scant respect from posterity. On the other hand, she knew 
— for the study of history was her pastime — that the 
Empresses Dowagers of the past had often wielded supreme 
power in the State, principles and precedents notwithstanding, 
and their example she determined to follow. Upon the 
taking off of the three chief conspirators, the Censors and 
Ministers urged her to deal in similar drastic fashion with 
their aiders and abettors, and Prince Kung was anxious, if not 
for revenge, at least for precautions being taken against those 
who had had the ear of the late Emperor during the last 
months of his reign. But Yehonala showed statesmanlike 
forbearance : early in life she realised that a few victims are 
better than many, and that lives spared often mean whole 

52 



THE FIRST REGENCY 

families of friends. After cashiering Prince Yi's remaining 
colleagues of the Grand Council, she dealt leniently with 
other offenders. When, for instance, Ch'en Tu-en, President 
of the Board of Civil Appointments, was impeached on the 
ground that it was he who had first persuaded the Emperor 
to flee to Jehol against her advice, and that, after the 
Emperor's death, he alone of all the high officials at the 
capital had been summoned to Jehol by the usurping 
Regents, she contented herself with removing him from 
office, though his guilt was clearly proved. Another official, 
a Minister of the Household, who had endeavoured to 
further the aims of the conspirators, by dissuading Hsien- 
Feng from returning to Peking in the spring of 1861, on 
the plea that an insurrection was impending, was also 
cashiered. But there was nothing in the nature of a general 
proscription, in spite of the pecuniary and other advantages 
which usually commend retaliation to the party in power at 
Peking. In an able Decree, Tzu Hsi let it be understood 
that she wished to punish a few only, and those chiefly pour 
encourager les autres. It was always a characteristic of hers 
that, when her ends were safely secured, she adopted a policy 
of watchful leniency : moderata durant. In this instance 
she was fully aware of the fact that Tsai Yiian and his 
colleagues would never have had the opportunities, nor the 
courage, to conspire for the Regency had they not been 
assured of the sympathy and support of many of the higher 
officials, but she preferred to let the iron hand rest in its 
velvet glove unless openly thwarted. She would have no 
proscriptions, no wreaking of private grudges and revenges. 
It was this characteristic of hers that, as will be seen in 
another place, obtained for her, amongst the people of 
Peking in particular, a reputation for almost quixotic 
gentleness, a reputation which we find expressed in frequent 
references to the " Benign Countenance," or " Benevolent 
Mother," and which undoubtedly represented certain genuine 
impulses in her complex nature. So, having crushed the 

53 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

conspiracy, she contented herself with exhorting all concerned 
to " attend henceforth strictly to their duty, avoiding those 
sycophantic and evil tendencies which had brought Chen 
Tu-en and Huang Tsung-han to their disgrace." In another 
Decree she emphasised the principle that sins of omission 
are not much less grave than overt acts, roundly censuring 
the Princes and Ministers of her Government for having 
failed to denounce the conspirators at once, and charging 
them with cowardice. It was fear and nothing else, she 
said, that had prevented them from revealing the truth ; and 
then, with one of those naive touches which makes Chinese 
Edicts a perpetual feast, she added that, should there be any 
further plots of usurpers, she would expect to be informed of 
their proceedings without delay. Above all, she bade the 
Imperial Clan take warning by the fate of the three 
conspirators, and intimated that any further attempts of this 
kind would be far more severely dealt with. 

One of the first steps of the Regency was to determine the 
title of the new reign. The usurping Princes had selected 
the characters " Chi-Hsiang," meaning " well-omened happi- 
ness," but to Yehonala's scholarly taste and fine sense of 
fitness, the title seemed ill-chosen and redundant, and as she 
wished to obliterate all memory of the usurpers' regime, she 
chose in its place the characters " T'ung-Chih," meaning 
"all-pervading tranquillity," probably with one eye on the 
suppression of the rebellion and the other on the chances of 
peace in the Forbidden City. As far as all good augury for 
the Emperor himself was concerned, one title was, as events 
proved, no more likely to be effective than the other. 

On the same day as the proclamation of the new reign was 
made by Edict, the Empresses Dowager issued a Decree 
explaining, and ostensibly deprecating, the high honour 
thrust upon them. 

" Our assumption of the Regency was utterly contrary to 
our wishes, but we have complied with the urgent request of 

54 




Photo, Ogawa, Tokio. 



Exterior of the Ch'ien Ch'ing Talace. 



THE FIRST REGENCY 

our Princes and Ministers, because we realise that it is 
efssential that there should be a higher authority to whom 
they may refer. So soon as ever the Emperor shall have 
completed his education, we shall take no further part in the 
Government, which will then naturally revert to the system 
prescribed by all dynastic tradition. Our sincere reluctance 
in assuming the direction of affairs must be manifest to all. 
Our officials are expected loyally to assist us in the arduous 
task which we have undertaken." 

Following upon this, a Decree was issued in the name of 
the Emperor, which represented the boy as thanking their 
Majesties the Regents and promising that, so soon as he 
came of age, he would endeavour, by dutiful ministrations, 
to prove his gratitude. 

For the procedure of Government it was then arranged 
that the Empresses should daily hold joint audiences in the 
side Hall of the main Palace. At these, and at all except the 
great Court ceremonies, the Emperor's great-uncle and four 
brothers were excused from performing the "kotow," the 
Emperor's respect for the senior generation being thus 
indirectly exhibited. 

Upon their acceptance of the Regency, honorific titles 
were conferred upon both Empresses. Each character in 
these titles represents a grant from the public funds of 
100,000 taels per annum (say, at that time, £20,000). Thus 
the Empress Consort became known by the title of Tzu An 
(Motherly and Restful) while Yehonala became Tzii Hsi 
(Motherly and Auspicious), one being the Empress of the 
Eastern, and the other of the Western Palace. At various 
subsequent periods, further honorific characters, in pairs, 
were added unto them, so that, on her seventieth birthday, 
Tzti Hsi was the proud possessor of sixteen. On that 
occasion she modestly and virtuously refused the four 
additional characters with which the Emperor Kuang-Hsii 
(not unprompted) desired to honour her. Tzti An Uved to 
receive ten in all ; both ladies received two on their 

55 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

thirtieth birthdays, two on the Emperor T'ung-Chih's 
accession, two just before his death in recognition of their 
" ministrations " during his attack of small-pox, and two on 
their fortieth birthdays. Tzii Hsi received two more on her 
fiftieth birthday, two on Kuang-Hsii's marriage, and two 
on her sixtieth birthday. Tzu Hsi's complete official 
designation at the end of her life was not easy to remember. 
It ran, " Tzti - Hsi - Tuan - yu - K'ang - yi - Chao - yu - Chuang - 
ch'eng-Shou-kung-Ch'in-hsien-Ch'ung-hsi- Huang Tai-hou," 
which, being translated, means " The Empress Dowager, 
motherly, auspicious, orthodox, heaven-blessed, prosperous, 
all-nourishing, brightly manifest, calm, sedate, perfect, 
long-lived, respectful, reverend, worshipful, illustrious and 
exalted." 

At the beginning of the Regency it suited Yehonala to 
conciliate and humour Prince Kung. In conjunction with 
her colleague, she therefore bestowed upon him the titles of 
" I-Cheng Wang," or Prince Adviser to the Government, 
and by special Decree she made the title of " Ch'in Wang," 
or Prince of the Blood (which had been bestowed upon him 
by the late Emperor), hereditary in his family for ever.i 
Prince Kung begged to be excused from accepting the 
former honour, whereupon ensued a solemn parade of refusal 
on the part of the Empresses, one of whom, as events 
proved, certainly wanted no adviser. Eventually, after much 
deprecation. Their Majesties gave way as regards the here- 
ditary title, but on the understanding that the offer would 
be renewed at a more fitting season. Yehonala who, in her 
better moments of grateful memory, could scarcely forget 
the brave part which Prince Kung had played for her 
at Jehol, made amends by adopting his daughter as a 
Princess Imperial, granting her the use of the Yellow 
palanquin. The influence of this Princess over Tzu Hsi, 
especially towards the end, was great, and it was strikingly 

} Hereditary titles in China usually descend in a diminishing scale. 

56 ■ 



THE FIRST REGENCY 

displayed in 1900 on behalf of Prince Tuan and the Boxer 
leaders. 

Ignorant at the outset of many things in the procedure of 
Government routine, feeling her way through the labyrinth 
of party politics and foreign affairs, afraid of her own youth 
and inexperience, it was but natural that Tzii Hsi should 
have recourse to the ripe wisdom of the late Emperor's 
brother and be guided by his opinion. But as time went on, 
as her knowledge of affairs broadened and deepened, her auto- 
cratic instincts gradually asserted themselves in an increasing 
impatience of advice and restraint. As, by the study of 
history and the light of her own intelligence, she gained 
confidence in the handling of State business and men, the 
guidance which had previously been welcome became 
distasteful, and eventually assumed the character of inter- 
ference. Despotic by nature, Tzu Hsi was not the woman 
to tolerate interference in any matter where her own mind 
was made up, and Prince Kung, on his side, was of a 
disposition little less proud and independent than her own. 
When the young Yehonala began to evince a disposition 
to dispense with his advice, he was therefore not inclined to 
conceal his displeasure, and relations speedily became 
stramed. As Tzu Hsi was at no pains to hide her 
resentment, he gradually came to adopt a policy of insti- 
gating her colleague, the Empress of the East, to a more 
independent attitude, a line of action which could not fail to 
produce ill-feeling and friction in the Palace. In the 
appointment of officials, also, which is the chief object and 
privilege of power in China, he was in the habit of promoting 
and protecting his own nominees without reference to 
Yehonala, by direct communications to the provinces. 
Eye-witnesses of the events of the period have recorded their 
impression that his attitude towards both Empresses at the 
commencement of the Regency was somewhat overbearing ; 
that he was inclined to presume upon the importance of his 
own position and services, and that on one occasion at 

57 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

audience, he even presumed to inform the Empresses that 
they owed their position to himself, a remark which Tzii Hsi 
was not Hkely to forget or forgive. 

At the audiences of the Grand Council, it was the custom 
for the two Empresses to sit on a raised dais, each on her 
separate Throne, immediately in front of which was sus- 
pended a yellow silk curtain ; they were therefore invisible to 
the Councillors, who were received separately and in the 
order of their seniority. Prince Kung coming first in his 
capacity as "adviser to the Government." Beside their 
Majesties on the dais stood their attendant eunuchs ; they 
were in the habit of peeping through the folds of the curtain, 
keeping a careful eye upon the demeanour of the officials in 
audience, with a view to noting any signs of disrespect or 
breach of etiquette. Strictly speaking, no official, however 
high his rank, might enter the Throne room unless sum- 
moned by the chief eunuch in attendance, but Prince Kung 
considered himself superior to such rules, and would enter 
unannounced. Other breaches of etiquette he committed 
which, as Her Majesty's knowledge of affairs increased, were 
carefully noted against him ; for instance, he would raise his 
voice when replying to their Majesties' instructions (which 
were always given by Tzii Hsi), and on one occasion, 
he even ventured to ask that Tzii Hsi should repeat some- 
thing she had just said, and which he pretended not to 
have understood. His attitude, in short (say the chroniclers), 
implied an assumption of equality which the proud spirit 
of the young Empress would not brook. Living outside 
the Palace as he did, having free intercourse with Chinese 
and foreign officials on all sides, he was naturally in a 
position to intrigue against her, did he so desire. Tzu Hsi, 
on the other hand, was hkely to imagine and exaggerate 
intrigues, since nearly all her information came from the 
eunuchs and would therefore naturally assume alarming 
proportions. There is little doubt that she gradually came 
to believe in the possibility of Prince Kung working against 

58 



THE FIRST REGENCY 

her authority, and she therefore set herself to prove to him 
that his position and prerogatives depended entirely upon 
her good will. 

She continued watching her opportunity and patiently 
biding her time until the occasion presented itself in the 
fourth year of the Regency (April, 1865). In a moment 
of absent-mindedness or bravado, Prince Kung ventured to 
rise from his knees during an audience, thus violating a 
fundamental rule of etiquette originally instituted to guard 
the Sovereign against any sudden attack. The eunuchs 
promptly informed their Majesties, whereupon Tzii Hsi 
called loudly for help, exclaiming that the Prince was 
plotting some evil treachery against the persons of the 
Regents. The Guards rushed in, and Prince Kung was 
ordered to leave the presence at once. His departure was 
speedily followed by the issue of an Imperial Decree, 
stating that he had endeavoured to usurp the authority of 
the Throne and persistently overrated his own importance to 
the State. He was accordingly dismissed from his position 
as adviser to the Government, relieved of his duties on the 
Grand Council and other high offices in the Palace ; even 
his appointment as head of the Foreign Office, or Tsungli 
Yamen, was cancelled. '' He had shown himself unworthy 
of their Majesties' confidence," said the Edict, " and had 
displayed gross nepotism in the appointment of high 
officials : his rebeUious and usurping tendencies must be 
sternly checked." 

A month later, however, Tzii Hsi, realising that her own 
position was not unassailable, and that her treatment of this 
powerful Prince had created much unfavourable comment at 
Court and in the provinces, saved her face and the situation 
simultaneously, by issuing a Decree in the name of herself 
and her colleague, which she described as a Decree of 
explanation. In this document she took no small credit to 
herself for strength of character and virtue in dealing 
severely with her near kinsmen in the interests of the State, 

59 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

and pointed to the fact that any undue encouragement of 
the Imperial clansmen, when inclined to take a line of their 
own, was hable, as history had repeatedly proved, to involve 
the country in destructive dissension. Her real object in 
inflicting punishment on the Prince for treating the Throne 
with disrespect was to save him from himself and from the 
imminent peril of his own folly. But now that several 
Memorials had been sent in by Censors and others, 
requesting that his errors be pardoned, the Throne could 
have no possible objection to showing clemency and, the 
position having been made clear. Prince Kung was restored 
to the position of Chamberlain, and to the direction of the 
Foreign Office. The Prince, in fact, needed a lesson in 
pohteness and, having got it. Her Majesty was prepared to 
let bygones be bygones, it being clearly understood that, for 
the future, he should display increased energy and loyalty as 
a mark of his sincere gratitude to their Majesties. 

A wxek later, Tzti Hsi, in order to drive the lesson home, 
issued the following Decree in the name of the Empresses 
Regent. 

" We granted an audience this morning to Prince Kung 
in order to permit him to return thanks for his re-appoint- 
ment. He prostrated himself humbly and wept bitterly, in 
token of his boundless self-abasement. We naturally took 
occasion to address to him some further words of warning 
and advice, and the Prince seemed genuinely grieved at his 
errors and full of remorse for misconduct which he freely 
acknowledged. Sincere feeling of this kind could not fail to 
eUcit our compassion. 

" It is now some years since we first assumed the burden 
of the Regency and appointed Prince Kung to be our chief 
adviser in the Government ; in this position his responsibility 
has been as great as the favour which we have bestowed 
upon him. The position which he has occupied in special 
relation to the Throne, is unparalleled ; therefore w^e expected 
much from him and, when he erred, the punishment which 
we were compelled to inflict upon him was necessarily 

60 



THE FIRST REGENCY 

severe. He has now repented liim of the evil and 
acknowledged his sins. For our part we had no prejudice in 
this matter, and were animated only by strict impartiality ; 
it was inconceivable that we should desire to treat harshly a 
Councillor of such tried abihty, or to deprive ourselves of 
the valuable assistance of the Prince. We therefore now 
restore him to the Grand Council, but in order that his 
authority may be reduced, we do not propose to reinstate 
him in his position as ' adviser to the Government.' Prince 
Kung, see to it now that you forget not the shame and 
remorse which have overtaken you ! Strive to requite our 
kindness and display greater self-control in the performance 
of your duties ! Justify our high confidence in you by 
ridding your mind of all unjust suspicions and fears." 

In the autumn of this year, 1865, took place the burial 
of the late Emperor, Hsien-Feng, the preparation of whose 
tomb had been proceeding for just four years. With him was 
buried his consort Sakota, who had died in 1850, a month 
before her husband's accession to the Throne ; her remains 
had been awaiting burial at a village temple, seven miles 
west of the capital, for fifteen years. As usual, the funeral 
ceremonies and preparation of the tombs involved vast 
expenditure, and there had been considerable difficulty in 
finding the necessary funds, for the southern provinces, 
which, under ordinary circumstances would have made the 
largest contributions, were still suffering severely from the 
ravages of the Taiping rebellion. The Emperor's mausoleum 
had cost nominally ten million taels, of which amount, 
of course, a very large proportion had been diverted for the 
benefit of the officials of the Household and others. 

The young Emperor, and the Empresses Regent 
proceeded, as in duty bound, to the Eastern Tombs to take 
their part in the solemn burial ceremonies. Prince Kung 
was in attendance ; to him had fallen the chief part in the 
preparation of the tomb and in the provision of the funds, 
and Her Majesty had no cause to complain of any scamping 
of his duties. The body of the Emperor, in an Imperial 

61 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

coffin of catalpa wood, richly lacquered and inscribed with 
Buddhist sutras, was borne within the huge domed grave 
chamber, and there deposited in the presence of their 
Majesties upon its "jewelled bedstead," the pedestal of 
precious metals prepared to receive it. In the place of 
the concubines and eunuchs, who in prehistoric days used to 
be buried alive with the deceased monarch, wooden and paper 
figures of life size were placed beside the coffin, reverently 
kneehng to serve their lord in the halls of Hades. The huge 
candles were lighted, prayers were recited, and a great wealth 
of valuable ornaments arranged within the grave chamber ; 
gold and jade sceptres, and a necklace of pearls were placed 
in the coffin. And when all was duly done, the great door 
of the chamber was slowly lowered and sealed in its place. 

Next day the Empresses Dowager issued a Decree in 
which Prince Kung's meritorious acts are graciously recog- 
nised, and their Majesties' thanks accorded to him for the 
satisfactory fulfilment of the funeral ceremonies. 

" Prince Kung has for the last five years been preparing 
the funeral arrangements for his late Majesty and has shown 
a due sense of decorum and diligence. To-day, both the late 
Emperor and his senior consort have been conveyed to their 
last resting place, and the great burden of our grief has been 
to some extent mitigated by our satisfaction in contemplat- 
ing the grandeur of their tombs, and the solemn ceremonies 
of their burial. No doubt but that the spirit of His Majesty 
in Heaven has also been comforted thereby. We now feel 
bound to act in accordance with the fraternal affection which 
always animated the deceased Emperor towards Prince 
Kung, and to bestow upon him high honours. But the 
Prince has repeatedly declined to accept any further 
dignities, lest perchance he should again be tempted to 
arrogance. His modesty meets with our approval, and we 
therefore merely refer his name to the Imperial Clan Court, 
for the selection of a reward. But we place on record the 
fact that as Grand Councillor he has been of great service 
to us, and has of late displayed notable circumspection and 
self-restraint in all matters. 

62 



THE FIRST REGENCY 

" The Decree which we issued last Spring was caused by 
the Prince's want of attention to small details of etiquette, 
and if we were obliged to punish him severely, our motives 
have been clearly explained. No doubt everyone in the 
Empire is well aware of the facts, but as posterity may 
possibly fail to realise all the circumstances, and as unjust 
blame might fall upon the memory of Prince Kung, if that 
Decree were allowed to remain inscribed amongst the 
Imperial Archives, thus suggesting a flaw in the white jade 
of his good name, we now command that the Decree in 
which we announced Prince Kung's dismissal from office be 
expunged from the annals of our reign. Thus is our 
affection displayed towards a deserving servant, and his 
good name preserved untarnished to all time." 

The Empress Dowager was essentially a woman of moods, 
and these Imperial Decrees simply reflect the fact, at the 
beginning of her autocratic rule, as they did until its close. 
Four years later Prince Kung was to incur her deep and 
permanent dishke by conspiring with her colleague to 
deprive her of her favourite, the chief eunuch An Te-hai. 



63 



TSENG KUO-FAN AND THE TAIPING 
REBELLION (1864) 

The first years of Yehonala's Co-Regency, during which 
she was steadily acquiring the arts and crafts of Government, 
and gradually relegating her easy-going colleague to the 
background, were joyfully associated in the minds of her 
subjects with the decline and final collapse of the great 
rebellion which had devastated the best part of the Empire 
since 1850. Chinese historians (a body of writers who 
depend largely on each others' writings for material) agree 
in attributing the final deliverance from this scourge to the 
ability and courage of the famous Viceroy Tseng Kuo-fan,^ 
and for once their praises are well-deserved, for this military 
scholar Hke his fellow provincial and colleague, Tso Tsung- 
t'ang,^ was a man of the heroic breed of philosophers which, 
with all its faults, the Confucian system has always produced, 
and continues to produce, to the great benefit of the Chinese 
people, a man whose name ranks high among China's 

1 He was the father of that Marquis Tseng who^ as Minister to England 
(1878), lived to be credited by the British press with literary abilities which 
he did not possess and liberal opinions which he did not share. His grand- 
sons, educated partly in England, have lately been distinguished for that 
quality of patriotic Conservatism which prides itself on having no intercourse 
with foreigners. 

2 A short biographical note on Tso Tsung-t'ang, the hero of the Mahom- 
edan rebellion who gained distinction under Tseng against the Taipings, is 
given in the appendix. 

64 



THE TAIPING REBELLION 

worthies, a household word for honesty and inteUigent 
patriotism. 

It was one of the secrets of Tzu Hsi's success as a ruler 
that she recognised and appreciated merit whenever she 
found it, and especially the merit of a military commander : 
it was only when she allowed her superstitious tendencies to 
outweigh her judgment that she failed. For the character 
and talents of Tseng Kuo-fan she had the highest respect, 
due, no doubt, in the first instance to the effect of his military 
despatches, stirring tales of camp and siege, on her imagina- 
tive mind, but later to personal acquaintance with his sterling 
qualities. With the single exception of Jung Lu, probably 
no high official ever stood so high in her affectionate esteem, 
and Jung Lu was a Manchu kinsman, while Tseng came 
from one of the proverbially independent gentry families of. 
Hunan. From a Chinese narrative of the Taiping rebellion, 
we are able to obtain a very clear impression, not only of 
Tseng's character and of his conception of patriotism but 
also of the remarkable and undisputed position of autocratic 
power already at that time enjoyed by the youthful Empress 
Tzu Hsi. Before turning to this narrative, however, certain 
points in connection with the final defeat of the Taipings 
deserve to be noted, events with which Englishmen were 
prominently identified, but which, as recorded by British eye- 
witnesses, confirm our doubts as to the historical value of 
Imperial Edicts and Chinese official despatches. 

The Emperor Hsien-Feng had died in exile and defeat at 
Jehol in August 1861. The Summer Palace had been 
destroyed by the British and French forces, peace had been 
restored, and the Co-Regency of the Empresses Dowager 
had commenced. One of the first acts of Prince Kung, 
in his capacity as " Adviser to the Government " after the 
conclusion of the Peace Convention of October 1860, was to 
invoke the aid of his country's conquering invaders against 
the Chinese rebels, whose strong position on the Yangtsze 
was causing the Court ever increasing anxiety. It is an 

65 F 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

illuminating example of Chinese methods of government, 
not without parallels and value to-day, that even while the 
British and French forces were concentratiug at Shanghai 
for their invasion of north China, high Chinese officials iu the 
Yangtsze provinces had not hesitated to invoke their aid 
against the rebels, and had been chagrined at a refusal which 
appeared to them unwise since it ignored the interests of 
British trade at its most important centre. The history of 
the " Ever- Victorious Army " need not be referred to here. 
It kept the rebels in check in the province of Kiangsu 
throughout the year 1862, and in February 1863 the British 
Government sanctioned the lending of " Chinese Gordon " 
to take command of that force, which was speedily to turn 
the tide of war in favour of the Imperialists and effectively 
to pave the way for Tseng Kuo-fan's final restoration of law 
and order. Soochow, the provincial capital, was regained in 
December 1863, and in the following July the fall of the 
rebel capital (Nanking) and the death of the rebel " King " 
practically ended the insurrection. A considerable number 
of Europeans, including a French Admiral, had given their 
lives to win back China for the Manchu Dynasty, although 
at the outset public opinion was in favour of strict neutrality 
and there were many, even then, who thought China would 
be well rid of her degenerate rulers : nevertheless, the 
triumphant Edict in which is recorded Tseng Kuo-fan's 
capture of Nanking contains no word of reference to Gordon 
and the invaluable help which he rendered, and, as will be 
seen, Tseng's only reference to the British Commander is to 
accuse him of having recommended the inhuman treatment 
of a defenceless prisoner. In accordance with the invariable 
classical tradition, he ascribes his success to "the con- 
summate virtue and wisdom " of the late Emperor Hsien- 
Feng ; the tradition represents, in conventional phraseology, 
the Oriental conception of the divine right of kings, and 
their infallibility (a conception which we find reproduced 
almost verbatim in the modern Japanese Generals' modest 

66 



THE TAIPING REBELLION 

reports of their greatest victories), and it is incompatible in 
China with any reference to the existence, much less the 
services, of foreign barbarians. The fact is worth noting, for 
Tseng was an exceptionally intelhgent and courageous man 
who could, sooner than most men, have ventured on a new 
departure ; and he knew full well that this same Gordon, 
who had steadily driven the rebels before him, cane in hand 
for over a year, had come hot-foot to the task from the 
sacking of the Manchu sovereigns' Summer Palace ! 

But Yehonala's joy at the fall of Nanking was unfeignedly 
great, and the Decree in which, in the name of the boy 
Emperor, she records the event and rewards the victors, is a 
brilliant example of her hterary style. We take the 
following extracts from this document, as of permanent 
interest and throwing light on the character of Tzu Hsi. 



Decree on the Fall of Nanking. 

"An express courier from Tseng Kuo-fan, travelling 
two hundred miles a day, has just arrived, bearing the red 
banner of decisive victory and a Memorial describing the 
capture of Nanking, the suicide by burning of the rebel 
Prince, the complete destruction of the Taiping host and the 
capture of two of their leading commanders. Perusal of 
this Memorial fills us with the deepest joy and gratitude, 
which all our people will share. The leader of the long 
haired rebels^ Hung Hsiu-ch'uan first raised his standard 
of revolt in the thirtieth year of Tao-Kuang (1850) ; from 
Kuangsi the movement spread gradually through Hunan, 
Hupei and the Yangtsze provinces to Chihli itself and 
Shantung, until scarcely a spot in the whole Empire but 
bore the footprints of the rebel armies. In the third year of 
Hsien-Feng (1853) they took Nanking and there established 
the seat of their Government. Uncounted thousands of our 
subjects have fallen victims to their savage crimes. The 

1 So called because they declined to plait the queue, as a sign that they 
rejected Manchu rule. 

67 r 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

cup of their guilt has indeed overflowed. Gods and men aHke 
hold them in abhorrence. 

" Our Imperial father, in the majesty of his wrath, and in 
all reverence to Heaven, began a punitive campaign against 
them and named Kuan Wen, the Viceroy of Wu-Ch'ang, to 
be his Imperial Commissioner for the war. This officer 
successfully cleared the Hupei region of rebels and then 
marched eastwards towards Kiangsu in order to extirpate 
them there also. Later, Tseng Kuo-fan was made Viceroy 
of Nanking and Imperial Commissioner for the campaign in 
Kiangsu and Anhui, and he achieved great results, propor- 
tionate to his high responsibility. 

"On the death of our late father (1861), half the cities of 
Kiangsu and Chekiang had been retaken by our forces, and 
it was a source of grief to His Majesty, recorded in his 
valedictory Decree, that he could not have lived to see the 
end of the rebellion. Upon our succeeding to the goodly 
heritage of the Throne, obeying our late father's commands 
and listening to the sage counsel of the Empresses Regent, 
we promoted Tseng Kuo-fan to be an Assistant Grand 
Secretary and gave him full powers as Commander-in-Chief 
over the four provinces of Kiangsu, Kiangsi, Anhui and 
Chekiang, so as to secure an undivided plan of campaign. 

" Ever since his appointment he has adopted a policy of 
masterful strategy in combination with the forces of P'eng 
Yu-hn and Tseng Kuo-ch'uan,^ attacking the rebels both by 
land and by water. Over a hundred cities have been 
recaptured and over a hundred thousand rebels, w^ho were 
advancing to the relief of Nanking, have been slain and 
* their left ears cut oiF.' ^ Nanking was thus completely 
invested and its relief became impossible. Early this month 
the outer defences of the city were taken and some thirty 
thousand rebels put to the sword, but their so-called King 
and his desperate followers were still at bay in the inner city, 
fighting fiercely to the end. 

" Tseng Kuo-fan now reports that after the capture by our 
troops of the outer city ramparts, the rebels greatly 

- His younger brother, subsequently made an earl and Viceroy of Nanking 
for many years. 

2 This is merely figurative, referring to an ancient and obsolete custom. 

68 



THE TAIPING REBELLION 

strengthened the inner defences. Our men succeeded in 
taking the ' Dragon's Elbow ' hill and a general bombard- 
ment followed. Mining and counter-mining went on 
furiously in the vicinity of the chief forts amidst desperate 
encounters. At dawn on the 16th all our forces were col- 
lected, and by springing a mine under the wall of the city 
a breach was made some sixty yards in width. Our men 
rushed the gap, burst into the city and were advancing on all 
sides when the rebels from the wall exploded a magazine, 
and many of our men were slain. A panic was only averted 
by our leaders cutting down a number of those who were 
attempting to fly. 

[Here follows a detailed description of the fighting, which 
we omit.~\ 

" By 1 a.m. flames were bursting from the Palace of the 
' Heavenly King ' and the residences of other rebel leaders. 
One of them rushed from the main Palace Hall with one 
thousand followers and sought refuge in some houses near 
the south gate of the city. After some seven hundred of his 
men had been slain, he was captured, and on his person were 
found two Imperial seals of jade and one official seal of gold. 
At 3 a.m. about a thousand of the rebels, disguised in our 
uniforms, escaped through the tunnel at the Gate of Heav- 
enly Peace but our cavalry pursued them and captured or 
destroyed the whole force at Hu-Shu chen, where their 
leader, the ' Glorious Prince,' was taken alive. On being 
examined, this leader whose name was Li Wan-ts'ai, admitted 
that seven of the so-called Princes of the Taipings had been 
slain by our forces, while seeking to escape under cover of 
darkness, on the night of our entrance into the city. 

" According to the evidence of other rebels, the arch- 
leader Hung Hsiu-ch'uan, had committed suicide by taking 
poison a month before. He had been buried in the court- 
yard of his Palace, and his son, the so-caUed Boy-Prince, 
had succeeded to the usurped title. He also had com- 
mitted suicide by burning when the city fell. Another 
of their chiefs, one Li Hsiu-cheng, had been wounded and 
was in hiding at a spot near by, where our men found him 
together with the elder brother of the ' Heavenly King.' 

69 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

During these three days, over a hundred thousand rebels 
were killed, of whom some three thousand were their 
so-called Princes, generals, and high officers. 

" This glorious victory is entirely due to the bountiful 
protection of Heaven, to the ^ever-present help of our 
Ancestors, and to the foresight and wisdom of the Empresses 
Regent, who, by employing and promoting efficient leaders 
for their armies, have thus secured co-operation of all our 
forces and the accompHshment of this great achievement, 
whereby the soul of our late father in Heaven must be 
comforted, and the desire of all people fulfilled. For 
ourselves we feel utterly unworthy of this crowning triumph, 
and we are truly distressed at the thought that our late 
father could not live to witness this consummation of his 
unfinished plans. This rebellion has now lasted fifteen years, 
during twelve of which Nanking has been held by the rebels. 
They have devastated about a dozen provinces, and have 
captured some hundreds of cities. Their final defeat we 
owe to our Generals, ' who have been combed by the wind 
and bathed in the rain,' and who have undergone every 
conceivable hardship in bringing about the destruction of 
these unspeakable traitors. We are therefore bound to 
recognise their exceptional services by the bestowal of 
exceptional rewards. Tseng Kuo-fan first contributed to 
this glorious end by raising a force of miHtia in Hunan and 
a fleet of war-vessels with which he won great victories, 
saving his province from complete ruin. He re-captured 
Wu-Ch'ang, cleared the whole province of Kiangsi, and, 
advancing eastwards, recovered city after city. That glorious 
success has finally crowned our effiarts is due chiefly to 
his masterly strategy and courage, to his employment of able 
subordinates and to his remarkable powers of organisation. 
We now confer upon him the title of Senior Guardian of 
the Throne, a marquisate of the first rank, hereditary in 
perpetuity, and the decoration of the double-eyed peacock's 
feather. 

[Here follows a long list of officers rewarded, beginning 
with Tseng Kuofan's brother, above mentioned, who was 
given an earldom.^ 

"As soon as the troops have found the body of the 

70 



THE TAIPING REBELLION 

usurper known as the ' Heavenly King,' Hung Hsiu-ch'uan, 
let it be dismembered forthwith and let the head be sent for 
exhibition in every province that has been ravaged by his 
rebellion, in order that the public indignation may be 
appeased. As to the two captured leaders, let them be sent 
in cages to Peking, in order that they may be examined and 
then punished with death by the lingering process." 

A further Decree announced that the Emperor would go 
in person to offer thanksgiving and sacrifice at all Imperial 
Temples and shrines, and make sacrifice to deities of the 
chief mountains and rivers of the Empire. 

A Chinese diarist of the rebellion, referring to the 
manner in which the 'Heavenly King' met his death, 
says : — 

" From the moment that the Imperialists captured Ch'u- 
yung, the rebels, pent up in Nanking like wild beasts in a 
cage, were in a hopeless plight. From the commencement 
of the 4th Moon, the city was completely invested, and 
without hope of rehef. They were living on reduced rations 
of one meagre meal a day. The ' Heavenly King ' caused 
roots and leaves to be kneaded and rolled into pellets 
which he had served out to his immediate followers, the 
rebel chiefs, saying, ' This is manna from Heaven ; for a 
long time we in the Palace have eaten nothing else.' He 
gave orders that every household should collect ten loads of 
this stuff for storage in the Palace granaries ; some of the 
more ignorant people obeyed the order, but most of the 
rebels ignored it. 

"The rebel Li Hsiu-ch'eng, known as the 'Patriotic 
Prince,' escaped from Ch'u-yung and made his way to 
Nanking. Upon entering the city, he had drums beaten and 
bells rung as a signal for the 'Heavenly King' and his 
followers to ascend to the Throne Chamber for the discussion 
of the perilous situation. Hung Hsiu-ch'iian came, and 
boastfully ascending the Throne, spake as follows ' The 
Most High has issued to me his sacred Decree. God 
the Father, and my Divine elder brother (Christ) have 
commanded me to descend unto this world of flesh and 
to become the one true lord of all nations and kindreds 

71 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

upon earth. What cause have I then for fear ? Remain 
with me, or leave me, as you choose : my inheritance of this 
Empire, which is even as an iron girdle of defence, wiU be 
protected by others if you decline to protect it. I have at 
my command an angelic host of a million strong : how then 
could a hundred thousand or so of these unholy Imperialists 
enter the city ' ? When Li Hsiu-ch'eng heard this non- 
sensical boasting, he burst into tears and left the haU. ^ 

" But before the middle of the 5th Moon, Hung Hsiu- 
ch'iian had come to realise that the city was doomed, and 
on the 27th day, having abandoned all hope, he procured a 
deadly poison which he mixed with his wine. Then raising 
the cup on high, he cried, ' It is not that God the Father 
has deceived me, but it is I who have disobeyed God the 
Father,' After repeating this several times he drank the 
poison. By midnight the measure of his iniquity was full, 
and, writhing in agony, he died. Even his last words 
showed no true repentance, although they amounted to an 
admission of guilt. When his followers learned what had 
happened, they wrapped his body in a coverlet of yellow 
silk, embroidered with dragons and then, following the rule 
of their religion, buried it, uncoffined, in a corner of the 
Palace ground. They then placed on the Throne the rebel's 
son, the so-called Boy-Emperor, but they tried to keep 
secret the news of the ' Heavenly King's ' death. It 
eventually leaked out, however, and the courage of the 
besieged dropped to the last depths of despair." 

In his Memorial to the Throne, Tseng Kuo-fan described 
the exhumation of the rebel Emperor's body. 

"Even the feet of the corpse were wrapped in dragon 
embroideries," he says ; " he had a bald head and a beard 
streaked with grey. After examining the body I beheaded it 
and then burnt it on a large bonfire. One of the concubines 
in the usurper's palace, a woman named Huang, who had 
herself prepared the body for burial, told me that the 
' Heavenly King ' seldom showed himself to his Court, so 
that they were able to keep his death a secret for sixteen 
days. I am sending his bogus seals to Peking that they 
may be deposited in the Imperial Archives Department." 

72 



THE TAIPING REBELLION 

The Memorial then proceeds : — 

" The prisoners Li Hsiu-ch'eng, known as the ' Patriotic 
Prince,' was minutely cross-examined by myself, and his 
statement, which he wrote out with his own hand, extends 
to some thirty thousand words. He narrated in detail the 
first causes of the rebellion and described the present 
position of the rebels still at large in Shensi and elsewhere. 
He strongly advised that we should not be too hard on the 
defeated rebels from Kuangtung and Kuangsi, on the ground 
that severity would only lead to an increase of the anti- 
dynastic feeling in those provinces. It seems to me that 
there is much sense in his advice. 

" All my staff were most anxious that Li Hsiu-ch'eng 
should be sent to Peking in a cage, and even the foreigner 
Gordon, when he called to congratulate me, strongly urged 
this course. But it seems to me that the high prestige of 
our Sacred Dynasty needs no such sending of petty rebels to 
Peking as trophies or prisoners of war. The ' Heavenly 
King's ' head is now being sent round those provinces which 
were laid waste by the rebellion, and this should suffice. 
Besides, I feel that there would be some risk of Li starving 
himself to death on the journey, or that a rescue might 
even be attempted, for this Li was extraordinarily popular 
with the common people. After the fall of the city, some 
peasants gave him shelter, and when he was finally captured 
the people of the village where he was taken decoyed 
and slew one of our men in revenge. After he had been put 
in his cage here, another rebel leader, the so-called ' Pine 
Prince,' was brought into camp. As soon as he caught sight 
of Li, he went down on his knees and saluted him most 
respectfully, I therefore decided to behead him and the 
sentence was duly carried out on the 6th instant. 

" The two elder brothers of the ' Heavenly King ' were men 
of a cruel and savage nature, who committed many foul and 
impious crimes. Li detested them both heartily. When 
captured, they were in a dazed state, and could only mumble 
' God the Father, God the Father.' As I could get no 
information from them, and as they were sick unto death, I 
had them both beheaded, two days before the execution of 
Li Hsiu-ch'eng. I am now in receipt of your Majesties' 

73 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Decree, approving my action and ordering me to forward 
the heads of the three rebel chiefs to the various provinces 
in order that pubHc indignation may be appeased. I have 
duly suspended the heads from long poles, and the sight of 
them has given great and general satisfaction. 

" And now, victory being ours, I am led to the reflection 
that this our Dynasty surpasses all its predecessors in martial 
glory and has suppressed several rebellions by achievements 
which shed lustre on our history. The Ssu-ch'uan and Hupei 
rebellion of half a century ago was, however, limited to four 
provinces, and only some twenty cities were held by the 
rebels. The insurrection of Wu San-kuei, in the reign of 
K'ang-Hsi, overran twelve provinces, and the rebels captured 
some three hundred cities and towns. But this Taiping 
rebellion has been on a scale vaster than any before, and has 
produced some great leaders in its armies. Here in Nan- 
king not a single rebel surrendered. Many burned themselves 
alive rather than be taken. Such things are unparalleled in 
history, and we feel that the final happy issue is due to the 
consummate virtue and wisdom of his late Majesty, which 
alone made victory possible. By dint of careful economy in 
the Palace, he was able to set aside large sums for the 
equipment of adequate forces. Most careful in his choice of 
leaders, he was lavish of rewards ; all wise himself, yet was 
he ever ready to listen to the advice of his generals. Your 
Majesties the Empresses and the Emperor have faithfully 
carried out and even amplified these principles, and thus 
you have succeeded in wiping out these usurpers and have 
shed great glory on your reign. We, who so unworthily 
hold your high command, grieve greatly that His Majesty 
did not live to see his work crowned with triumph." 

For four years after the collapse of the rebellion, Tseng 
Kuo-fan remained at Nanking as Viceroy. (The Hunanese 
still regard that post as belonging by prescriptive right to a 
Hunanese official.) His only absence was during a brief 
expedition against the Mahomedan rebels in Shantung. 
In September 1868 he was appointed Viceroy of Chihli, and 
left for Peking at the end of the year, receiving a remarkable 
ovation from the people of Nanking. In Peking he was 

74 



THE TAIPING REBELLION 

received with great honours, and in his capacity of Grand 
Secretary had a meeting with the Council on the morning 
after his arrival, followed immediately by an Audience, to 
which he was summoned and conducted by one of the 
Princes. The young Emperor was sitting on a Throne 
facing west, and the Empresses Regent were behind him, 
screened from view by the yellow curtain, Tzti An to the 
left and Tzti Hsi to the right of the Throne. In the 
Chinese narrative of the rebellion to which we have 
already referred, the writer professes to report this audience, 
and several that followed, practically verbatim, and as it 
affords interesting information as to the manner and 
methods of Tzii Hsi on these occasions, the following 
extracts are worthy of reproduction. It is to be observed 
that the writer, like all his contemporaries, assumes ah initio 
that the Empress Tzti An, though senior, is a negligible 
quantity and that the whole interest of the occasion lies 
between Tzii Hsi and the official in audience. 

Upon entering the Throne room, Tseng fell upon his 
knees, as in duty bound, and in that position advanced a few 
feet, saying "Your servant Tseng Kuo-fan respectfully 
enquires after Your Majesties' health." Then removing his 
hat and performing the kowtow, he humbly returned thanks 
for Imperial favours bestowed upon him. These pre- 
liminaries completed, he rose and advanced a few steps to 
kneel on the cushion prepared for him below the dais. The 
following dialogue then took place : — 

Her Majesty Tzii Hsi. When you left Nanking, was all 
your official work completed ? 

Tseng. Yes, quite completed. 

Tzu Hsi. Have the irregular troops and braves all been 
disbanded ? 

Tseng. Yes, all. 

Tzii Hsi. How many in all ? 

Tseng. I have disbanded over twenty thousand irregulars 
and have enrolled thirty thousand regulars. 

Tzu Hsi. From which province do the majority of these 
men hail ? 

75 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Tseng. A few of the troops come from Hunan, but the 
great majority are Anhui men. 

TzU Hsi. Was the disbandment eiFected quite quietly ? 
Tseng. Yes, quite quietly. 

Then follow numerous questions regarding Tseng's 
previous career, his family, &c. As soon as the questions 
cease, after waiting a few minutes, the audience is at an end, 
and Tseng kowtows and retires. On each occasion, and they 
were many, the Empress had evidently worked up her 
questions carefully from study of reports and despatches, 
and invariably put them in the short sharp form indicated ; 
always peremptory, de liaut en has and Ceesarian, this 
woman " behind the screen," addressing the veteran who 
had saved China for her rule. 

After describing Tseng's important position at the Court 
banquet given to high officials, Manchu and Chinese, on the 
the 16th day of the 1st Moon (at which six plays were 
performed and the dishes " passed all reckoning "), the 
narrative gives an account of his farewell audience, at which 
Her Majesty closely cross-examined him as to his plans for 
the reorganisation of the naval and military forces of Chihli. 
He held the post of Chihli Viceroy for a little over a year. 
The viceregal residence in those days was at Pao-ting fu, so 
that when the Tientsin massacre occurred (1870) he was not 
directly to blame, though officially responsible. In June of 
that year the Nanking Viceroy was assassinated, and Tseng 
was ordered to resume duty at that post, his place in Chihli 
being taken by Li Hung-chang, who held it for twenty-four 
years. Tseng, whose health was failing, endeavoured to 
have his appointment to Nanking cancelled, but Tzii Hsi 
would take no excuses. She issued a Decree in which she 
laid stress on the arduous nature of the work to be done at 
the southern capital and Tseng's special fitness for the post 
which he had so ably administered in the past. " Even if 
his eyesight troubles him," she said, " he can still exercise a 
general supervision." 

76 



THE TAIPING REBELLION 

Before leaving for the south, Tseng celebrated his sixtieth 
birthday, receiving many marks of Imperial favour and rich 
gifts. The Empress sent him a poem of congratulation in 
her own handwriting, and a tablet bearing the inscription 
"My lofty pillar and rock of defence," together with an 
image of Buddha, a sandalwood sceptre inlaid with jade, a 
dragon robe, ten rolls of " auspicious " silk, and ten of crape. 
At his farewell audience the following interesting conversa- 
tion took place : — 

TzU Hsi. When did you leave Tientsin ? 

Tseng. On the 23rd. 

TzU Hsi. Have the ringleaders in the massacre of 
foreigners been executed yet ? 

Tseng. Not yet. The Consul told me that the Russian 
Minister was coming to Tientsin and that the French 
Minister was sending a deputy to witness the executions, so 
that the decapitations could not be summarily carried 
out. 

TzU Hsi. What date has Li Hung-chang fixed for the 
executions ? 

Tseng. On the day of my departure, he sent me word 
that he expected to dispose of them yesterday. 

Tzu Hsi. Have the Tientsin populace calmed down ? 

Tseng. Yes, things are now quite settled and orderly. 

TzU Hsi. What made the Prefect and Magistrate run 
away to Shun-Te after the massacre ? 

Tseng. When first removed from their posts, they knew 
not what sentence would be decreed against them, so they 
boldly and shamelessly ran away from the city. 

TzU Hsi. Have you quite lost the sight of your right 
eye? 

Tseng. Yes, it is quite blind ; but I can still see with 
the left. 

Tzu Hsi. Have you entirely recovered from your other 
maladies ? 

Tseng. Yes, I think I can say that I have. 

Tzu Hsi. You appear to kneel, and to rise from that 
posture quite briskly and freely, as if your physique were 
still pretty good ? 

77 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Tseng. No ; it is not what it used to be. 

TzU Hsi. That was a strange thing, the assassination of 
Ma Hsin-yi (the late Viceroy of Nanking), was it not ? 

Tseng. Extraordinary. 

TzU Hsi. He was a first-rate administrator. 

Tseng. Yes, he took great pains, and was honest and 
impartial. 

Tzu Hsi. How many regular troops have you raised in 
Chihh ? 

Tseng. Three thousand. The former Viceroy had four 
thousand men trained under the old system. I had 
intended to raise three thousand more, making a total force 
of ten thousand. I have arranged with Li Hung-chang to 
carry out this programme. 

Tzu Hsi. It is of vital importance that we should have a 
force of properly trained troops in the south. You must 
see to this. 

Tseng. Yes. At present peace prevails, but we must be 
prepared for all possible emergencies. I propose to build 
forts at several places on the Yangtsze. 

TzU Hsi. It would be a fine thing if we could secure 
ourselves properly against invasion. These missionary 
complications are perpetually creating trouble for us. 

Tseng. That is true. Of late the missionaries have 
created trouble everywhere. The native converts are 
given to oppressing those who will not embrace 
Christianity (literally " eat the religion ") and the mission- 
aries always screen the converts, while the Consuls protect 
the missionaries. Next year, when the time comes for 
revising the French Treaty, we must take particular pains 
to reconsider carefully the whole question of religious 
propaganda. 

In November Tseng had his farewell audience, and Tzu 
Hsi never saw him again. A month later he took over the 
seals of office at his old post, one of his first acts being to 
try the assassin of his predecessor, who was condemned to 
death by the slicing process. In the following summer he 
went for a cruise of inspection and visited various places of 
interest, noting with satisfaction the complete restoration of 

78 



THE TAIPING REBELLION 

law and order in the districts which had been for so long the 
scene of the Taipings' devastations. On one occasion, seeing 
the gaily decked " flower-boats " and listening to the sounds 
of their revelries, he joyfully exclaimed : " I am glad to have 
lived to see my province as it was before the rebellion." In 
December he moved into the Viceregal residence which he 
had known as the Palace of the Taiping " Heavenly King." 
But he was not long to administer that high office, for in the 
early part of 1872 he had a first stroke of paralysis. A few 
days later, going in his chair to meet a high official arriving 
from Peking, and reciting, as was his wont, favourite passages 
from the classics, he suddenly made a sign to his attendants, 
but speech failed him and he could only mumble. In his 
diary that same evening, he wrote : — " This illness of 
mine prevents me from attending to my work. In the 
26th and 27th years of Tao-Kuang (1846-7) I found that 
effi)rts at poetical composition brought on attacks of 
eczema and insomnia. Now it is different. I feel all dazed 
and confused. Spots float before my eyes and my liver is 
disordered. Alas, that I can neither obtain a speedy release, 
hke the morning dew which swiftly passes away, nor hope 
for the restoration of energies to enable me to perform my 
duty. What sadder fate than thus to linger on, useless, in 
the world ! " On the next day he wrote : — " My strength is 
rapidly failing, and I must leave behind me many unsettled 
questions and business half completed. The dead leaves 
of disappointed hopes fill all the landscape, and I see no 
prospect of setthng my affairs. Thirty years have passed 
since I took my degree, and I have attained to the highest 
rank ; yet have I learned nothing, and my character stiU 
lacks true solidity. What shame should be mine at having 
reached thus uselessly old age ! " Next day, while reading a 
despatch, he had another stroke. Rallying, he told his 
eldest son, Tseng Chi-tse, to see to it that his funeral 
ceremonies were conducted after the old usages, and that 
neither Buddhist nor Taoist priests be permitted to chant 

79 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

their liturgies over his corpse. On the following morning, 
though very weak, he insisted on perusing one of the essays 
which had been successful at the provincial examination. 
In the evening he was taken out into his garden and was 
returning thence with his son when the last seizure occurred. 
They carried him into the great Hall of audience, where he 
sat upright, as if presiding at a meeting of Council, and thus 
passed away, well stricken in age, though only sixty-two by 
the calendar. " Every man in Nanking," says the writer of 
this narrative, " felt as if he had lost a parent ; it was 
rumoured that a shooting star had fallen in the city at the 
very moment of his death. The news was received by the 
Throne with profound grief. All Court functions were 
suspended for three days." 

The Empress Dowager issued a Decree praising her 
faithful servant in unmeasured terms of gratitude and esteem, 
describing him as the " very backbone of the Throne," reciting 
his glorious achievements and ordering the erection of 
Temples in his honour in all the provinces that had been the 
scene of his campaign against the Taipings, in order " to 
prove our sincere affection for this good and loyal man." 



80 



VI 
TZtr HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

One of the facts upon which modern Chinese historians, 
Censors, Imperial Tutors and Guardians of the Heir 
Apparent have repeatedly laid stress, is that the Ming 
Dynasty became effeminate, then degenerate, and was 
eventually lost, because of the demoralising influence of the 
eunuch system on the Court and its official entourage. 
Upon this text, moral exhortations in the best classical 
manner have been addressed to the Throne for centuries, 
regardless of the consideration that most of the writers owed 
their positions, and hoped to owe further advancement, to 
the eunuchs, who had the sovereign's ear. These Memorials 
were usually only a part of the hoary fabric of pious platitudes 
and shadowy shibboleths which loom so large in the stock in 
trade of China's bureaucacy (in which matter China stands 
not alone), and the Empress Dowager, under whose rule the 
evil grew and assumed monstrous proportions, was ever 
wont to play her part in this elaborate farce, by solemnly 
approving the views of the bold critics and by professing 
the greatest indignation at the misdeeds of her eunuch 
myrmidons and retainers. 

There have been, of course, sincere and eloquent critics 
of this pernicious system and its attendant evils ; in fact, 
scarcely a reformer worthy of the name during the past 
fifty years has failed to place the abolition of eunuchs in the 

81 G 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

front rank of the measures necessary to bring China into 
Hne with the civiUsed Powers. There is no doubt that one 
of the first causes of the coup d'etat in 1898 arose from the 
hatred of the Chief Eunuch, Li Lien-ying, for the Emperor 
Kuang-Hsii (who years before had ventured to have him 
beaten), and his not unnatural apprehension that the 
Emperor intended to follow up his reforms of the Peking 
Administration by devoting his attention to the Palace and 
to the abohtion of eunuchs. As to the Boxer rising, it has 
been clearly proved that this notorious and powerful 
Chamberlain used all the weight of his great influence with 
his Imperial mistress on behalf of the anti-foreign movement, 
and that, if justice had been done (that is to say had he not 
been protected by the Russian Legation), his should have 
been one of the very first names on the Peace Protocol 
" Black List." The part which Li Lien-ying played in these 
two national crises of recent years is mentioned here chiefly 
to emphasise the fact that the platitudinous utterances of 
the orthodox express, as usual, a very real and widespread 
grievance, and that the falsetto notes of the Censorate are 
answered by a deep undertone of dissatisfaction and disgust 
throughout the provinces. It is for this reason that, 
especially during the past five years, progressive and 
patriotic Chinese officials {e.g. men like the Viceroy Yiian 
Shih-k'ai and T'ang Shao-yi, who realise how greatly the 
persistence of this barbarous medievalism lowers China in 
the eyes of the world), as well as the unanimous voice of the 
vernacular Press, have urged that the Court should now 
dispense with eunuchs, a measure which the Regent is said 
to favour, but which — such is the power wielded by these 
" fawning sycophants " — would undoubtedly be difficult and 
possibly dangerous. As early as 1906, The Times corres- 
pondent at Peking was discussing the possibility of their 
early removal as one of the many reforms which then shone 
so brightly on the horizon. In the Chinese conservative's 
opinion, however, which still weighs heavily in China, 

82 



TZIJ HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

there are centuries of precedents and arguments to be 
adduced in favour of a system which has obtained 
continuously since long before the beginning of the 
Christian era, which coincides with the Chinese accepted 
ideas of polygamy, and recognises the vital importance of 
legitimacy of succession in relation to the national religion 
of ancestor worship. On the other hand, it is true that in 
the golden days of the Sage Emperors at the beginning of 
the Chou Dynasty, eunuchs had no place in the body 
politic. Later, during the period of that Dynasty's decay 
and the era of the feudal States, Confucius refers with 
disapproval to their baneful influence, so that the Sage's 
authority may be adduced against them and their proceedings. 
With the establishment of the present Djmasty at Peking 
(1644), the Manchus took over, as conquerors, all the existing 
machinery and personnel of the Chinese Court, eunuchs 
included, but they lost no time in restricting the latter 's 
activities and opportunities. At the first audience held by 
the young Emperor Shun-Chih, the liigh officials, Manchu 
and Chinese, united to protest against the recent high-handed 
proceedings of the Court menials, declaring them to be 
"fit only to sweep floors, and in no wise entitled to have 
access to the Monarch." Regulations were promptly intro- 
duced, which remain in force (on paper) to this day, forbidding 
any eunuch to occupy any official position, or to hold any 
honorific rank or title higher than a Button of the fourth 
class. More important still, in view of the far-reaching 
conspiracy of the Cliief Eunuch, Wei Chung (whom the last 
of the Mings had beheaded), was the law then introduced, 
which forbade any eunuch to leave the capital on any 
pretext whatsoever. For the next two hundred years, 
thanks to the wise rule and excellent traditions handed down 
by the two famous Emperors K'ang-Hsi and Ch'ien-Lung, 
the Palace eunuchs were kept generally under very strict 
discipline ; but with the present century, when degeneration 
had set in strongly under the dissolute monarch Hsien-Feng, 

83 G 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

and even before the appearance of Yehonala on the scene, 
their evil influence had again become paramount in the 
Forbidden City. With Tzu Hsi's accession to power, all the 
corruption, intrigues and barbarous proceedings, that had 
characterised the last Mings, were gradually re-established and 
became permanent features of her Court. 

Of the power which the eunuchs exercised throughout the 
whole of Tzti Hsi's reign, there is no possible doubt : 
the abuses which they practised under her protection, 
abuses flagrant and unconcealed, increased with the passing 
years and her own growing indifference to criticsm, until, 
after 1898, her favourite and chief body-servant, Li Lien- 
ying did not scruple to boast that he could make or mar the 
highest officials at his pleasure and defy the Son of Heaven 
on his Throne. Of the countless legends of debauchery in 
the Palace, of orgies devised for Tzti Hsi by the Court 
eunuchs and actors, there is naturally nothing approaching 
to direct evidence : the frequent denunciations by Censors 
and the scurrilous writings of Cantonese and other lamp- 
ooners, afford at best but circumstantial proof. The writings 
of K'ang Yu-wei and his associates, in particular, are clearly 
inspired by bhnd and unscrupulous hatred, and so inaccurate 
in matters of common knowledge and history, that one must 
perforce discount the value of their statements wherever the 
Empress Dowager or Jung Lu are concerned. But common 
report in China, as elsewhere, is usually based on some 
foundation of truth, and in Peking, where the mass of the 
population has always been conspicuously loyal to Tzu Hsi, 
there have never been two opinions as to the extravagance 
and general profligacy of her Court and of the evils of the 
eunuch regime. Nor is there room for doubt as to the 
deplorable effect exercised by these vicious underlings on 
weak and undisciplined Emperors, rulers of decadent instincts 
often encouraged in vicious practices to their speedy undoing. 
That this was the fate of Tzu Hsi's own son, the Emperor 
T'ung-Chih, is well-known, nor is there any doubt that the 

84 



TZU HSl AND THE EUNUCHS 

deaths of both Hsien-Feng and Kuang-Hsii were hastened, if 
not caused, by the temptations to which they were exposed 
by their vicious environment. The inner history of the 
Celestial Empire and the Manchu Dynasty during the last 
seventy years is inextricably bound up with that of the 
Palace eunuchs and their far-reaching intrigues. During 
the half century of Tzti Hsi's rule, the power behind the 
Throne (literally a power of darkness in high places) was that 
of her favourite Chamberlains. Of these the last, who has 
survived her, Li Lien-ying, is known by his nickname of 
" Cobbler's Wax Li " (P'i Hsiao Li) ^ from one end of the 
Empire to the other as the chief " squeezer " and arch villain 
of many a Palace tragedy. His influence over his Imperial 
mistress was indeed remarkable ; on all occasions, except 
State audiences, she was wont to treat him with an 
affectionate familiarity, and to allow him a sans-gene, to 
which no courtier, nor any member of her own family (save 
perhaps Jung Lu) dared ever aspire. 

During the Court's residence, and the Emperor's illness, 
at Jehol in 1861, the young Yehonala had occasion to notice 
and to appreciate the intelligence and willing service ren- 
dered by one of the eunuchs in immediate attendance 
upon her ; this servant, by name An Te-hai, became her 
faithful henchman throughout the crisis of the Tsai Ylian 
conspiracy, and her intermediary and confidant in her 
dealings with the young guardsman, Jung Lu. Upon 
her- accession to the Co-Regency, he became her favourite 
attendant and emissary, and later her dme damnee, 
sharing in all her ambitious hopes and plans, with no small 
advantage to himself, while at the same time employing 
his undeniable talents to the diversion of the young widow's 
mind by the provision of the elaborate Court pageants 
and theatrical entertainments which her soul loved. An 

1 So named because, before becoming a eunuch at the age of sixteen, he 
was apprenticed to a cobbler at his native place, Ho-Chien fu, in Chihli, 
from which district most of the eunuchs come. 

85 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Te-hai was himself an actor of no mean ability and ex- 
ceedingly handsome of his person. 

It was at this time, before the Regency was firmly estab- 
lished and while yet the reverberating echoes of the Tsai 
Yiian conspiracy lingered in Chihli, that the leading Censors 
began to send in Memorials against the self-evident extra- 
vagance and the rumoured profligacy of Tzu Hsi's Palace. 
The young Yehonala, headstrong and already impatient 
of criticism and restraint, confident also in the strength 
and loyalty of her immediate following, never allowed these 
remonstrances to affect her conduct in the slightest degree ; 
nevertheless, a stickler always for etiquette and appearances, 
and an adept at " face-saving " arts, she had no objection 
to expressing the heartiest approval of, and agreement with, 
her professional moralists. On more than one occasion, 
in those first years, we find her proclaiming in most suitably 
worded Edicts, pious intentions which were never intended 
to be taken seriously by anyone, and never were. The 
following Decree, issued in the third year of the Regency, 
(1864) is a case in point, and particularly interesting in that 
it refers to the wholesale pilfering by eunuchs in the Palace, 
which has continued without interruption to this day. 

A Decree in the name of the two Empresses Regent, 
in the third year of the Emperor T'ung-Chih : — 

"The Censor Chia To memoriahses, saying that it has 
come to his knowledge that certain of the eunuchs who 
perform theatricals in the Imperial Household, have had 
their costumes made of tribute silks and satins taken from 
the Imperial storehouses. He asserts that they perform 
daily before the Throne and regularly receive largesse to the 
amount of thousands of taels. He asks that these practices 
be forbidden and discontinued forthwith, in order that all 
tendency towards vicious courses may be checked. 

" With reference to this Memorial, it should be stated 
that last year, although the twenty-seven months of 
Imperial mourning for the late monarch were drawing to 
their close, we issued a Decree forbidding all festivities, for 

86 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

the reason that His late Majesty's remains had not yet been 
removed to their final place of sepulture ; at the same time we 
gave orders that the seasonal tribute in kind, and provincial 
offerings, should be forwarded, as usual, in order to provide 
eventually for the costuming of the Palace theatricals, with 
reference to which matter we intended to issue another 
Decree in due course, upon the conclusion of the funeral 
ceremonies. We seized the opportunity, in this same Edict, 
to abolish once and for all the custom of bringing actors to 
the Palace to be made eunuchs, holding it to be wise, while 
His Majesty is still a minor, that everything that might 
tend in any way to lead him into paths of extravagance and 
dissipation should be firmly nipped in the bud. The Censor's 
present Memorial has therefore filled us with real amazement. 
At a time like this, when rebeUions are still raging, and our 
people are in sore distress, when our treasuries are empty 
and our revenues insufficient for the needs of Government, 
our hearts are heavy with sorrowful thoughts, and must be 
so, especially as long as His late Majesty's remains have not 
yet been borne to their final resting place. How then could 
we possibly permit such a state of things as the Censor 
describes ? ^ Furthermore, it is the duty of the Comptroller 
of our Household to keep a complete inventory of all bullion 
and silken stuffs in the Palace, none of which can be touched 
without our express permission. Surely this is sufficient to 
prove that all these rumours are utterly devoid of 
foundation. 

" Nevertheless, in our remote seclusion of the Palace, it is 
inevitable that we should be kept in ignorance of much that 
goes on, so that it is just possible there may be some ground 
for these reports. It may be that certain evil-disposed 
eunuchs have been committing irregularities beyond the 
Palace precincts, and, if so, such conduct must be stopped 
at all costs. We hereby command that drastic measures be 
taken to deal with the offenders at once. 

"It is imperatively necessary that the Emperor, in the 
intervals of his studies, should have about his person only 
honest and steady retainers, with whom he may converse on 

^ This form of argument^ under similar conditions, obtains all over the 
Empire, " How could I possibly squeeze my master f " says the servant, 

87 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

the arts and practice of government. If his attendants are 
evil men and make it their business to flatter his ears and 
divert his eyes with luxurious and effeminate pastimes, the 
result might well be to produce in His Majesty most 
undesirable tendencies ; and any fault in the Emperor, how- 
ever trifling, is liable to involve the State in far-reaching 
misfortunes. We therefore hereby authorise the Ministers 
of our Household to see to it that the Chief Eunuch enforces 
strict discipline upon aU his subordinates, and should any of 
them hereafter venture to commit presumptuous acts, or to 
display their overweening arrogance, they must at once be 
arrested by the police and severely punished. And should 
such a case occur the Chief Eunuch will also be dismissed 
for neglect of his duty of supervision, and the Comptrollers 
of the Household will incur our severe displeasure, with 
penalties. Let this Decree be copied and preserved in the 
archives of the Household and the Ante- Chambers." 

As everyone in ,the capital was well aware of Yehonala's 
passion for the theatre, this Decree was naturally regarded 
as so much " fine writing on waste paper," and it is notice- 
able that from this time until her favourite and chief eunuch 
An Te-hai, came to his dramatic end, the Censors continued 
to impeach her and to denounce the ever increasing extrava- 
gance, which was already seriously disorganising the Metro- 
politan Government's finances and entailing fresh corvees in 
the provinces. 

In 1866, two courageous Censors memorialised on this 
subject, having particularly in their minds the abuses caused 
by the unlawful proceedings of An Te-hai. 

" More care," said they, " should be shown in the selection 
of the Emperor's body-servants. All the disasters that have 
overtaken previous Dynasties have been directly due to the 
machinations and evil influence of eunuchs. These creatures 
worm their way into the confidence and even into the 
affection of the Throne by their protestations of loyalty and 
faithful service ; they are past-masters in every art of adroit 
flattery. Having once secured the Imperial favour and 



TZtJ HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

protection, they proceed to attach to themselves troops of 
followers, and gradually make for themselves a place of 
power that in time becomes unassailable. We, your 
Memorialists, therefore beg that this danger be now averted by 
the selection of well-bred and trustworthy attendants to wait 
upon His Majesty. There should not be about the Throne 
any young eunuchs of attractive appearance, creatures who 
make it their aim to establish influence over the Emperor 
and who would certainly turn it to their own ends so soon as 
he assumes the control of affairs." 

In the Decree commenting on this Memorial, the 
Empresses Regent, in the name of the Emperor, observe : — 

" This Memorial is very much to the point. History is 
full of instances where disaster has been brought about by 
eunuchs, and the example afforded us by those rulers who 
have been corrupted and undone by these ' rats and foxes,' 
should serve as timely warning to ourselves. By the divine 
wisdom of our predecessors on the Throne, not only have 
eunuchs been forbidden to meddle in all business of State, 
but they have never been permitted to gain the ear of 
the sovereign, or to influence him in any way, so that, for the 
past two hundred years, eunuch influence has been a thing 
of the past, and these fawning sycophants have enjoyed no 
opportunity of practising their evil arts of intrigue. Ever 
since their Majesties, the present Empresses Dowager, 
assumed the Regency, they also have conformed strictly 
to this House-law of our Dynasty, and have refused to allow 
these artful minions undue access to their Presence. As 
we peruse the present Memorial, we must admit that it 
evinces a very clear perception of those dangers which may 
overtake the State because of the undue influence of 
eunuchs. Our feelings, while reading it, are like those 
of the man who ' treading upon the hoar-frost, realises that 
winter is at hand.' ^ We therefore now command that if any 
of these noisome flatterers are attempting to pervert the 
intelligence of the Throne, the matter must be dealt with 

^ Quotation from the Book of Changes, implying a sense of impending 
danger. 

89 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

promptly, and we must be informed, so that their fitting 
punishment may be secured. We desire that all our 
attendants shall be of indisputable integrity and good 
morals, so that the door may be firmly shut on all evil 
and degrading tendencies." 

Thus, Tzti Hsi, in her best manner, "for the gallery." 
But, "in the deep seclusion of our Palace," life went on 
as before, the merry round of an Oriental Trianon, while 
the Chief Eunuch's influence over the young Empress 
became greater every day. It was common knowledge, 
and the gossip of the tea-houses, that his lightest whim 
was law in the Forbidden City; that Yehonala and he, 
dressed in fancy costumes from historical plays, would make 
frequent excursions on the Palace lake ; that he frequently 
wore the Dragon robes sacred to the use of the sovereign, 
and that the Empress had publicly presented him with 
the jade "ju-yi," symbol of royal power. Under these 
circumstances it was only natural, if not inevitable, that 
unfounded rumours should be rife in exaggeration of the 
real facts, and so we find it reported that An Te-hai was 
no eunuch, and again, that Yehonala had been delivered 
of a son ^ of which he was the father ; many fantastic and 
moving tales were current of the licentious festivities of 
the Court, of students masquerading as eunuchs and then 
being put out of the way in the subterranean galleries of 
the Palace. Rumours and tales of orgies ; inventions no 
doubt, for the most part, yet inevitable in the face of the 
notorious and undeniable corruption that had characterised 
the Court and the seraglio under the dissolute Hsien-Feng, 
and justified, if not confirmed, as time went on, by an 
irresistible consensus of opinion in the capital, and by fully 
substantiated events in the Empress Dowager's career. 

Of these events, one, which had far-reaching results, 
was her violation of the dynastic house-law which forbade 

1 Chinese pamphleteers in Canton record the event with much detail, and 
state that this son is alive to-day under the name of Chiu Min. 

90 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

eunuchs to leave the capital. In 1869, being short of funds, 
and desiring to replenish her Privy Purse without consulting 
Prince Kung or her colleague the Co-Regent, she despatched 
her favourite An Te-hai on a special mission to Shantung, 
where he was to collect tribute in her name.^ By this time 
the Chief Eunuch had incurred the bitter enmity of several 
of the Princes of the Imperial Clan, and especially of 
Prince Kung, not only because of his growing influence 
over Tzii Hsi, but because of his insolent bearing to all 
at Court. On one occasion the Empress had curtly sent 
word to Prince Kung that she could not gi-ant him audience 
because she was busy talking to the eunuch, an insult which 
the Prince never forgot and which cost the favourite his life, 
besides leading to the disgrace of the Prince and other 
consequences serious to the Empire. 

The Chief Eunuch's illegal mission to Shantung, and 
his outrageous behaviour in that province, provided Prince 
Kung with a long-sought opportunity not only of wreaking 
vengeance on him but of creating rivalry and enmity 
between the Empresses Regent. The Governor of Shan- 
tung, an able and courageous official named Ting Pao-chen, 
who had distinguished himself in the Taiping rebellion, 
was highly incensed at the arrogant eunuch's assumption of 
Imperial authority, and being quite au courant with the 
position of affairs in the Palace, he reported direct to Prince 
Kung and asked for instructions. The Governor's despatch 
reached the Prince while Tzii Hsi was amusing herself with 
theatricals ; without a moment's delay he sought audience of 
Tzii An, the Co-Regent Empress, and, playing upon her 
vanity and weak disposition, induced her to sign a Decree, 
which he drafted in her presence, ordering the eunuch's 

^ A fantastic account of this mission is contained in an imaginative work 
recently published (La Vie Secrete de la Cour de Chine, PariSj 1910)^ where 
the Chief Eunuch's name is given as " Siao." This curious blunder is due 
to the fact that the Eunuch's nickname, on account of his stature^ was 
"Hsiao An'rh " (little An), just as Li hien-Ying's is " P'i Hsiao" Li all over 
China. 

91 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

summary decapitation, the customary formality of a trial iii 
Peking being dispensed with. Tzu An, hard pressed as 
she was, gave her consent reluctantly and with a clear 
presentiment of evil to come from the wrath of her masterful 
colleague. "The Western Empress will assuredly kill me 
for this," she is reported to have said to the Prince, as she 
handed him the sealed Decree, which Kung sent off post- 
haste by special courier. 

The following is the text of this interesting document : — 

" Ting Pao-chen reports that a eunuch has been creating 
disturbances in the province of Shantung. According to 
the Department Magistrate of Te Chou, a eunuch named 
An and his followers passed through that place by way of 
the Imperial Canal, in two dragon barges, with much display 
of pomp and pageantry. He announced that he had come 
on an Imperial mission to procure Dragon robes. His 
barges flew a black banner, bearing in its centre the triple 
Imperial emblems of the Sun, and there were also Dragon 
and Phoenix flags flying on both sides of his vessels.^ A 
goodly company of both sexes were in attendance on this 
person ; there were female musicians, skilled in the use of 
string and wind instruments. The banks of the Canal were 
lined with crowds of spectators, who witnessed with amaze- 
iTient and admiration his progress. The 21st day of last 
month happened to be this eunuch's birthday, so he arrayed 
himself in Dragon robes, and stood on the foredeck - of his 
barge, to receive the homage of his suite. The local 
Magistrate was just about to order his arrest when the 
barges set sail and proceeded southwards. The Governor 
adds that he has already given orders for his immediate 
arrest. 

" We are dumfoundered at this report. How can we 
hope ever to purify the standard of morals in the Palace and 
frighten evil-doers, unless we make an example of this 
insolent eunuch, who has dared to leave Peking without our 
permission and to commit these lawless deeds ? The 
Governors of the three provinces of Shantung, Honan and 

1 The Phcenix flag signified that he was sent by the Empresses Regent. 

92 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

Kiangsu are ordered to seek out and arrest the eunuch An, 
whom we had formerly honoured with rank of the sixth 
grade and the decoration of the crow's feather. Upon his 
being duly identified by his companions, let him be forth- 
with beheaded, without further formalities, no attention is 
to be paid to any crafty explanations which he may attempt 
to make. The Governors concerned will be held responsible 
in the event of failure to effect his arrest." 

Tzti Hsi remained for some time in blissful ignorance of 
her favourite's danger, and even of his death. No doubt the 
Chief Eunuch's great unpopularity enabled Prince Kung and 
the Empress Tzu An to keep the matter secret until the 
offender was past helping. Ten days later, Tzii An issued 
a second Decree, extracted from her like the first by Prince 
Kung, in which the eunuch's execution is recorded, as 
follows : — 

" Ting Pao-chen now reports that the eunuch An was 
arrested in the T'ai An prefecture and has been summarily 
beheaded. Our dynasty's house-law is most strict in regard 
to the proper discipline of eunuchs, and provides severe 
punishment for any offences which they may commit. They 
have always been sternly forbidden to make expeditions to the 
provinces, or to create trouble. Nevertheless, An Te-hai 
actually had the brazen effrontery to violate this law, and 
for his crimes his execution is only a fitting reward. In 
futXire, let all eunuchs take warning by his example ; should 
we have further cause to complain, the chief eunuchs of the 
several departments of the Household, will be punished as 
well as the actual offender. Any eunuch who may hereafter 
pretend that he has been sent on Imperial business to the 
provinces shall be cast into chains at once, and sent to 
Peking for punishment." 

This Decree has a half-hearted ring, as if some of the con- 
spirators' fear of the coming wrath of Yehonala had crept 
into it. Very different in wording are the Edicts in which 
Tzu Hsi condemns an offender to death. We miss her 

93 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

trenchant style, that " strength of the pen " which was the 
secret of much of her power. 

Simultaneously with the death of An, in Shantung, several 
eunuchs of his following were put to death by stranghng ; 
six others escaped from the police, of whom five were re- 
captured and executed. The Chief Eunuch's family were 
sent as slaves to the frontier guards in the north-west. 
Several days after the execution of Tzii Hsi's favourite, the 
eunuch who had escaped made his way back to Peking, and 
sent word to the Empress through Li Lien-ying, another of 
her confidential attendants. At first she could scarcely 
beHeve that her timorous and self-eiFacing colleague could 
have dared to sign these Decrees on her own responsibihty 
and in secret, no matter what amount of pressure might 
have been brought to bear upon her. When she reahsed 
what had occurred, the Palace witnessed one of those out- 
bursts of torrential rage with which it was to become 
familiar in years to come. Swiftly making her way to the 
" Palace of Benevolent Peace," the residence of her Co- 
Regent, she wrathfully demanded an explanation. Tzu An, 
terrified, endeavoured to put the whole blame upon Prince 
Kung ; but the plea did not serve her, and Tzii Hsi, after a 
fierce quarrel, left, vowing vengeance on them both. This 
event marked a turning point in the career of Yehonala, 
who, until then, had maintained amicable relations with her 
less strong-minded colleague, and all the appearances of 
equality in the Co-Regency. Henceforward she devoted 
more time and closer attention to affairs of State, con- 
solidating her position and power with a clear determination 
to prevent any further interference with her supreme 
authority. From this time forward she definitely assumes 
the first place as ruler of China, relegating her colleague 
completely to the background. 

When, on the morning after the storm. Prince Kung 
appeared in the Audience Hall, Tzii sternly rebuked him, 
threatening him with dismissal and the forfeiture of his 

94 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

titles. For the time being, however, she allowed him to go 
unpunished, but she never forgave the offence, and she took 
her revenge in due season : he suffered the effects of her 
resentment as long as he lived. Her first act was to pass 
over his son, the rightful heir to the Throne, upon the death 
of T'ung-Chih. It is true that in after years she permitted 
him to hold high office, but this was, firstly, because she 
could not afford to dispense with his services, and, secondly, 
because of her genuine affection for his daughter, whom she 
had adopted as her own child. 

An Te-hai was succeeded in the post of Chief Eunuch and 
confidential attendant on her Majesty by Li Lien-ying, of 
whom mention has already been made. For the next forty 
years this Palace servant was destined to play a leading part 
in the government of China, to hold in his supple hands the 
lives and deaths of thousands, to make and unmake the 
highest officials of the Empire, and to levy rich tribute on 
the eighteen provinces. As a youth of sixteen, when he 
" left the family " (as the Chinese euphemistically describe 
the making of a eunuch), Li was remarkable for his hand- 
some appearance and good manners, advantages which never 
failed to carry weight with Tzii Hsi. It is recorded on 
trustworthy authority that at an early stage in his career he 
had so ingratiated himself with Her Majesty that he was 
permitted unusual liberties, remaining seated in her presence, 
aye, even on the Throne itself. In the privacy of her apart- 
ments he was allowed to discuss whatever subjects he chose, 
without being spoken to, and as years passed and his 
familiarity with the Old Buddha increased, he became her 
regular and authoritative adviser on all important State 
business. In later years, when speaking of Her Majesty to 
outsiders, even to high officials, he would use the familiar 
pronoun " Tsa-men " meaning " we two," which is usually 
reserved for blood relations or persons on a footing of 

1 The same expression is used of a novice taking the vows of Buddhist 
priesthood. 

95 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

familiar equality, and he was currently known among his 
followers by the almost sacrilegious title of " Lord of nine 
thousand years," the Emperor being Lord of ten thousand. 
Only on solemn State occasions did he observe the etiquette 
prescribed for his class and a modest demeanour. 

Corrupt, avaricious, vindictive, and fiercely cruel to his 
enemies and rivals, it must be said in Li's favour that he was, 
at least, wholly devoted and faithful to his Imperial mistress, 
and that at times of peril he never failed to exert himself to 
the utmost for her comfort and protection. He possessed 
moreover, other good qualities which appealed not only to 
Tzii Hsi but to many of the high Manchu officials, who did 
not consider it beneath their pride to throng for admission 
at his private residence. He was cheerful, fond of a joke, 
an excellent actor ^ and raconteur , and a generous host : above 
aU, he was passing rich. At the Empress Dowager's funeral, 
in November 1909, this aged retainer presented a pathetic 
and almost venerable spectacle, enough to make one forget 
for a moment the accumulated horrors of his seventy years 
of wickedness. Smitten with age and sickness, he could 
scarcely totter the short distance which the cortege had to 
make on foot ; but of all that vast throng of officials and Palace 
servants, he alone showed unmistakable signs of deep and 
genuine grief. Watching the intelligent features of this 
maker of secret history, one could not but wonder what 
thoughts were passing through that subtle brain, as he 
shuffled past the Pavilion of the Diplomatic Body, escorting 
for the last time his great mistress, — the close confidant, not 
to say comrade, of aU those long and eventful years^ For 
half a century he had served her with unremitting zeal and 
fidelity, no small thing in a country when the allegiance of 
servants is so commonly bought and sold. In his youth 

1 Tzii Hsi was fond of masquerading with her favourite^ till well advanced 
in years. One photograph of her is on sale in Peking, wherein she is pos- 
ing as the Goddess of Mei*cy (Kuanyin) with Li in attendance as one of the 
Boddhisatvas. 

96 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

it was he who walked and ran beside her chair as body 
servant ; through what scenes of splendour and squalor 
had they both passed since then, and now he was left alone, 
surrounded by new faces and confronted by imminent peril 
of change. Yet in spite of his long life and the enervating 
influences of his profession, the old man's powerful physique 
was by no means exhausted. 

Too wise to follow in the footsteps of his unfortunate 
predecessor, Li never made raids on his own account into 
the provinces, nor did he ever attempt to gain or claim high 
official rank, remaining prudently content with the fourth 
class button, which is the highest grade to which eunuchs 
may legally aspire. But, under the protection and with the 
full knowledge of the Empress Dowager, he organised a 
regular system of corvees, squeezes and douceurs, levied on 
every high official in the Empire, the proceeds of which he 
frequently shared with the Old Buddha herself. As shown 
in another place, the Empress and her Chief Eunuch 
practically made common cause and a common purse in 
collecting "tribute" and squeezes during the wanderings 
of the Court in exUe after 1900. At that time the Chief 
Eunuch, less fortunate than his mistress, had lost the whole 
of his buried treasure in the capital. It had been " cached " 
in a safe place, known only to his intimate subordinates, but 
one of these sold the secret to the French troops, who raided 
the hoard, a rich booty. One of Li's first steps after the 
Court's return was to obtain the Old Buddha's permission to 
have the traitor beheaded, which was done without undue 
formalities. The Chief Eunuch's fortune is estimated by 
Peking bankers to-day at about two millions sterling, 
invested chiefly in pawn-shops and money-changing estab- 
lishments at the capital ; this sum represents roughly his 
share of the provincial tribute and squeezes on official 
appointments for the last eight years, and the total is not 
surprising when we bear in mind that the price of one official 
post has been known to bring him in as much as three 

97 H 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

hundred and twenty thousand taels, or say forty thousand 
pounds. 

One of the secrets of his wealth was that he never 
despised the day of small things. The following is the text 
of a letter in our possession (of which we reproduce a 
facsimile), written by him to one of the regular contractors 
of the Palace, with whom he must have had many similar 
transactions. The paper on which it is written is of the 
commonest, and the visiting card which, as usual, accom- 
panies it, is that of an unpretentious business man ; the 
style of the writer is terse and to the point : — 

" To my worthy friend, Mr. Wang, the Seventh (of his 
family) : — 

" Since I last had the pleasure of seeing you, you have 
been constantly in my thoughts. I wish you, with all 
respect, long life and prosperity : thus will your days 
fulfil my best hopes of you. And now I beg pohtely 
to tell you that I, your younger brother,^ am quite 
ashamed of the emptiness of my purse and I therefore beg 
that you, good Sir, will be so good as to lend me notes to 
the amount of fifteen hundred taels, which sum kindly hand 
to the bearer of this letter. I look forward to a day for our 
further conversation, 

" Your younger brother, 

" Li Lien-ying." 

As to the amount, Li knew exactly how much the 
contractors and furnishers of the Palace should pay on every 
occasion, and that there was no need to question the 
possibility of the " loan " not being forthcoming. 

That he encouraged lavish expenditure at the Court is 
certain, and scarcely a matter for wonder, but his control of 
finance extended far beyond the Privy Purse, and wrought 
great harm to the Empire on more than one historic 
occasion. For instance, China's humiliating defeat at the 
hands of Japan in 1894 was very largely due to his diversion 
of vast sums of money from the Navy to the reconstruction 

^ A term of humility. 
98 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

and decoration of the Summer Palace, a work from which 
he and his underhngs profited to no small extent. In 1885, 
Prince Ch'un had been appointed head of the Admiralty 
Board, assisted by Prince Ch'ing, Li Hung-chang and the 
Marquis Tseng. After the death of the Marquis, however 
(who had been a moving spirit in the organisation of the 
Board), Naval affairs passed into the control of a cHque of 
young and inexperienced Princes, and when, in 1889, the 
Emperor assumed the direction of the Government, one of 
his first acts was to order the re-building of the Summer 
Palace, which Imperial residence had remained in ruins 
since its destruction by the Allies in 1861. There being 
no funds available, Li advised that the Naval appro- 
priations should be devoted to this purpose, so that the 
Old Buddha might be suitably provided with a residence ; 
this was accordingly done, and the Naval Department 
became a branch of the Imperial Household (Nei Wu Fu) 
for all purposes of Government finance. When the war 
with Japan broke out, the Empress Dowager issued orders 
that the Naval Department should be abolished. This order 
evoked very general criticism, but, as the Department and 
the Summer Palace rebuilding fund had come to be treated 
as one and the same account, her Decree simply meant that 
as the Palace restoration was now complete, and as the 
funds were quite exhausted, the account in question might 
be considered closed. There was obviously nothing to be 
gained by useless enquiries for money to be transferred from 
the Palace to the Navy. 

In 1889 the Chief Eunuch accompanied Prince Ch'un on 
his first tour of inspection to the northern Naval ports, 
including the Naval bases of Port Arthur and Weihaiwei. 
It was a matter of very general comment at the time that 
the honours paid to the eunuch were noticeably greater than 
those shown to the Prince. Every oflficer in the Peiyang 
squadron, from Admiral Ting downwards, did his best 
to ingratiate himself with this powerful Chamberlain, and to 

99 H 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

become enrolled on the list of his proteges, so that he was 
entoure with all manner of bribery and adulation. Many 
critics, foreign aijd Chinese, have cast on Li Hung-chang the 
blame for the disasters of the Japanese war, but they surely 
overlook the fact, to which even the great Viceroy dared 
not openly refer, that nine-tenths of the funds which should 
have gone to the upkeep and provisioning of the Navy and 
the maintenance of the Coast Defences, had been diverted 
by the Chief Eunuch to the Palace (and much of them to 
his own pocket), so that the ships' crews were disaffected, and 
their ordnance defective, in the hour of need. Readers of 
Pepys will remember a very similar state of affairs obtaining 
in the British Navy, happily without affecting the moral of 
its officers and men, at a similarly critical period of British 
history. 

Li Lien-ying's hatred of the Emperor Kuang-Hsii was 
beyond doubt a most important factor in the coup d'etat, and 
in the subsequent estrangement and hostiUty between Tzu 
Hsi and the nominal ruler of the Empire ; there are not 
lacking those who say that it had much to do with the 
Emperor's death, which certainly created no surprise in the 
capital. The eunuch hated and feared the Emperor's 
reforming zeal, as well as the Cantonese advisers who in 
1898 came swarming to Peking as the apostles of a new 
dispensation, and it was therefore only natural that he 
should become the foremost adviser and partisan of the 
reactionaries and their emissary in urging the Empress to 
resume control of affairs. It is quite safe to assert that had 
his great influence with Tzu Hsi been exercised against, 
instead of for, the Boxers, had he abstained from encouraging 
her superstitious belief in their magic arts, the anti-foreign 
movement would never have gone further than the borders 
of Shantung, and the Chinese people would have been spared 
the heavy burden of the indemnities. How interesting a 
study of Asiatic politics and Court Ufe presents itself in the 
spectacle of this cobbler's apprentice and his influence on the 

100 



I 



TZtj HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

destinies of so great a race ! Seeing him as he was on the 
day of his mistress's burial, how bitter must have been the 
innermost thoughts of the man, left alone on the brink of 
the grave with the ill-gotten wealth that his country has paid 
for so heavily ! 

At the height of the Boxer crisis when the power wielded 
by lii Lien-ying was enormous, it was the custom of Prince 
Tuan, when explaining his views to the Empress Dowager 
and the Grand Council, to emphasise the fact that no 
step had been taken except with the advice and approval 
of the Chief Eunuch. "Such and such a Decree," he 
would say, "is issued with the chief Chamberlain Li's 
approval." His object in so doing was to head off opposition, 
for he well knew that few would dare to oppose any 
measures that the Chief Eunuch approved. When Her 
Majesty granted rewards to the Boxers and offered head- 
money to the troops for the killing of Europeans, it was at 
Li's urgent request that she consented to defray these 
unusual charges from her Privy Purse. 

When the relieving forces drew near to Peking and it 
became clear, even to the most obstinate, that the Boxer 
bolt was shot, the Chief Eunuch passed through a period of 
deep depression and mortification, not only because of the 
failure of his prophecies, but because it was clear to all 
at Court that his Imperial mistress, seeking, as was her 
wont, a scapegoat, was disposed to vent her wrath upon 
him. Herself deeply stirred by fear and wrath, it was 
only natural that she should turn on him, who had been 
foremost in advising her to follow the path of destruction. 
On the day when the relief of the Legations took place, 
Duke Lan rushed headlong into the Palace, loudly announ- 
cing that the foreign devils were already within the city walls. 
Tzii Hsi turned on him and asked how he could reconcile 
such a statement with his previous boasts. "I presume 
that the devils have flown here," said she, "for you were 
teUing me only two days ago of our glorious victories 

101 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

near Tientsin ; and yet all the time you knew well, as I 
knew, that the Viceroy and the Li Ping-heng were both 
dead." Li Lien-ying, who was standing close by, hearing 
this, went out and informed the trembling crowd of eunuchs, 
adding, " The Old Buddha is in an unspeakable rage. There 
is nothing for it ; we must make our escape and retire 
into Shensi. There we will await the arrival of our re- 
inforcements which will easily drive all these devils back 
into the sea." But the hardships and dangers of the flight 
told even more severely on the chief eunuch than on the 
Old Buddha herself, and it was not until the Court's 
safe establishment at Hsi-an that he recovered his self- 
possession. 

Certain information conveyed by an official of the 
Household in exile to a fellow provincial at Peking, throws 
considerable light on the manner in which the Court lived 
during those troublous days, and the part played in affairs of 
State by the chief eunuch and Tzii Hsi's other favourites of 
the Household. We take the following disconnected notes 
from this correspondence. 

When Ts'en Ch'un-hslian (Governor of Shensi) came to 
meet the Court on the Shansi frontier, the Old Buddha, 
raising the curtain of her sedan-chair, looked out and said to 
him, " Have you any idea of what we have suffered in 
Peking ? " " I do not know all," he replied. Pointing 
angrily at Li, she said, " It was all his doing ; he has brought 
ruin upon me." The chief eunuch hung his head, and for 
once had nothing to say. Later on, when the fearless Ts'en 
saw the eunuchs under Li's orders mercilessly harassing the 
countryside in their search for plunder, he promptly reported 
matters to the Empress and obtained her somewhat reluc- 
tant permission to execute three of the offenders on the 
spot. He was sorely tempted to include the chief eunuch 
in the number of his victims, but realising how greatly Her 
Majesty depended upon her favourite attendant, he feared 
to run the risk of inconveniencing and offending her. 

102 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

Nevertheless, Li had a narrow escape. Later on, when Li 
had recovered his equanimity, and the Court had settled 
down to its usual routine, the eunuch revenged himself on 
the Governor, with the help of Jung Lu, by having him 
transferred to the Governorship of Shansi. He did this, not 
only because the post in Shansi was considered a dangerous 
one, owing to the fear of pursuit by the Allies, but because 
Ts'en had gradually made himself most useful to Her 
Majesty by superintending the expenditure of her House- 
hold. The Governor was justly famous throughout the 
Empire for his incorruptible honesty, so that, when placed 
in charge of the Palace accounts, these speedily showed a 
very considerable reduction in expenditure. The first result 
of this regime was to put a stop to all the " squeeze " of the 
eunuchs, and to place their salaries upon a definite and 
moderate basis. Ts'en rapidly attained an intimate and 
confidential position with Her Majesty, to the great and 
increasing wrath of the chief eunuch, who left no stone 
unturned to injure him, and eventually succeeded, with the 
help of Jung Lu, in inducing Her Majesty to dispense with 
his personal services. For over a month, however, the Old 
Buddha spent hours daily discussing public and private 
affairs with this fearless and upright official, and it would 
have been well for her had she retained him and others of 
his quality about her to counteract the corrupt tendencies 
of her Manchu clansmen and the eunuchs. After Ts'en's 
transfer to Shansi, the chief eunuch did not scruple to 
suppress and destroy many of the memorials which as 
Governor he addressed to the Old Buddha, and which Li did 
not desire his mistress to see. Gradually he re-established 
himself as completely as before in the confidence and favour 
of his mistress, and before the Court's return to Peking he 
had become if anything more familiarly arrogant than at 
any previous stage in his career. At audiences given to the 
highest officials he would even go so far as to refuse to 
transmit Her Majesty's orders, bluntly informing her that 

103 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

he was tired and that there had been enough pubHc business 
for that day ! 

The vast quantities of tribute levied by the Court from 
the Southern Provinces at this time were handled in the first 
instance by Li Lien-ying, whose apartments were stacked 
with heaps of dragon robes, tribute silk and other valuables. 
Of all the tribute paid in bulhon, the Empress Dowager's 
share was one-half, while the eunuchs divided one-fifth, and 
the balance was handed over to Jung Lu for military 
purposes and his own emolument. So profitable was the 
eunuchs' business at Hsi-an and Kai-feng, that Li Lien-ying 
did his utmost to dissuade the Old Buddha from returning 
to Peking, endeavouring to frighten her by alarming 
prognostications of the vengeance of the foreign Powers. 
Li's motives were not entirely mercenary, however, for there 
is no doubt that for a long time he fully expected to find 
his own name on the " black list " of the Legations, and that 
it fully deserved to figure there. He directed the second 
eunuch, named Ts'ui, to communicate to him daily the 
latest news from Peking, and it was only when reassured 
by reports from Prince Ch'ing, that his courage returned, and 
his opposition to the Court's return ceased. The conciliatory 
attitude, which he eventually adopted towards the Empress 
Dowager's reform policy, was largely induced by the good 
advice which he received from Jung Lu, who strongly urged 
him to control his reactionary opinions and violent temper. 

The amount of tribute paid in silver to the Court at 
Hsi-an was over five million taels, the quota from each 
Province being kept separate. The chief eunuch was 
assisted in the supervision of the tribute accounts by 
another favourite of the Old Buddha, a eunuch named Sun, 
whose covetousness and buUjdng methods of " squeeze " 
were almost equal to those of his chief. On one occasion 
the deputy in charge of the tribute from Hupei was paying 
in bullion to the Imperial Household, and Sun was tallying 
the amounts with a steelyard. He said there was a shortage. 

104 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

" That cannot be so," said the deputy, " for every shoe of 
Hupei silver weighs fifty taels exactly, so that there can be 
no mistake." The eunuch looked at him insolently, and 
said, " How many times have you brought tribute, and what 
do you know about the customs of the Court ? " The 
frightened deputy persisted that all was in order. Sun then 
said angrily : "I suppose, then, you mean that the Old 
Buddha's scales are false ? " He was just proceeding to 
assault the unfortunate deputy, when the Old Buddha 
herself, overhearing the argument (the court-yards of her 
residence being very small) came out and directed the 
eunuch to bring the silver into her own apartments, where 
she would weigh it herself. " I believe there has been a 
great deal of leakage lately," she said ; " it is the business of 
my eunuchs to see that I am not cheated." The deputy 
took his departure, looking extremely crestfallen, but on his 
way out he was met by Chi I^u, the Controller of the 
Household, who said to him, " We all know you have been 
having a bad time of it, but you must not mind. These 
eunuchs have been making very little money of late, for the 
Old Buddha has been keeping a very sharp watch on them ; 
you must therefore excuse them. And they have lost a 
great deal in Peking." 

Tribute of twenty-four kinds was received from Canton, 
but the eunuchs on their own initiative, and in order to 
compel largesse, rejected nine different kinds of articles, so 
that the official in charge was gi'eatly alarmed, fearing that 
the Old Buddha would accuse him of having stolen the 
things which the eunuchs refused to receive. This was one 
of their commonest methods of levying tribute on their own 
account ; another was to make large purchases in the name 
of the Empress, and refuse to pay for them. Much hardship 
was inflicted on the -people of Hsi-an, and indeed of the 
entire province, fr-om their depredations, especially because 
at the time Shensi was already suffering from the beginnings 
of famine, caused by the prolonged drought. It is recorded 

105 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

in the accounts of the Governor Ts'en, that flour cost 96 
cash a pound, eggs 34 cash apiece, and pork 400 cash a 
pound, while fish was almost unobtainable ; these prices 
being about six times as high as those ruling in southern 
China. 

Many of the eunuchs appeared to take pleasure in 
humiliating the Emperor, and subjecting him to petty 
annoyances, which often roused him to petulant outbursts 
of temper. In one letter from the Court at Hsi-an it was 
reported that His Majesty appeared to be a Httle wrong in 
the head, for he would spend his time playing foolish games, 
such as hide-and-seek, with the younger eunuchs, until 
interrupted by the Empress Dowager, when he would im- 
mediately get into a corner and assume a sullen demeanour. 
At other times, when irritated, he would give way to violent 
fits of rage and throw the household crockery at the heads 
of his attendants. These reports must be received with 
caution, as they were frequently spread abroad by the chief 
eunuch and members of the reactionary party in order to 
damage His Majesty in the eyes of the outside world. 

As above stated, after the return of the Court from its 
journeying in the wilderness (1902) Li's influence with the 
Empress Dowager was, if anything, greater than before, all 
the internal affairs of the Palace being under his supreme 
control. Following Her Majesty's example, however, he 
professed his complete conversion to the necessity of reform, 
and even gave his approval, after certain amendments had 
been made by the Grand Council and by himself, to her 
programme for the granting of a Constitution. Jesting with 
Her Majesty in his usual famihar manner, he was heard on 
more than one occasion to predict her conversion to 
Christianity. " We are only sham devils now. Old Buddha," 
he said. 

Nevertheless, and in spite of advancing years and infirmity, 
he has clung, and still clings, tenaciously to the perquisites 
and privileges of his stewardship, fiercely defending the 

106 



TZU HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

eunuch system and his own post by all the means (and they 
are many) in his power. When, in 1901, T'ao Mo, late 
Viceroy of Canton, sent in his famous Memorial urging that, 
in view of the greatly reduced number of the Imperial 
concubines, the eunuchs should be replaced by female 
attendants, Li successfully intrigued to prevent this docu- 
ment reaching Her Majesty until he had taken effective 
steps to prevent her being advised in favour of the 
suggestion. T'ao Mo's Memorial was as follows : — 

" The prosperity of the State depends absolutely upon the 
virtue of the ruler. Where the sovereign surrounds himself 
with wise and just men, the country must benefit ; where he 
chooses time-servers to advise him, rebellion and chaos will be 
the inevitable result. If one human being be called upon to 
attend to the multifarious duties of the State, in addition to 
managing the internal affairs of the Palace, his position may 
be glorious indeed, but the responsibilities thereof are too 
great for any man to bear. Even a sovereign, surrounded by 
men of the sternest integrity, might well pause and falter at 
the dread chances of failure. But how can a nation possibly 
escape dire misfortune when, between sovereign and subjects 
is set up a barrier composed of men of the most contemptible 
and degraded kind ? These creatures are not necessarily aU 
traitors or notorious scoundrels ; it is sufficient, for the 
undoing of a sovereign, that he be surrounded at all hours 
by ilUterate persons, lacking in moral perception, who pander 
to his moods and minister to his caprices. Even the worst 
Minister of State has not the same opportunity of influenc- 
ing his Emperor for evil : but these eunuchs are for ever 
about and around him. Intimacy with eunuchs necessarily 
brings about a sapping of the moral fibre ; any ruler exposed 
to their influences cannot possibly keep in touch with his 
people. 

" But if we wish to root out these influences, we must 
proceed as if we were weeding out tares in a field. If we 
leave the roots in the ground, they ^vill sooner or later 
spring up again to fresh life. Complete eradication is the 
only cure. His Majesty is come of age and his character is 
daily developing ; how deeply he must deplore the fact that 

107 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

he is compelled to associate with this class of men at a time 
when he is doing his best to introduce a pohcy of reform ! 
If previous Dynasties employed eunuchs it was because of 
the large number of concubines in the Palace, but his 
present Majesty's harem is small, and he might therefore 
preferably employ female attendants to minister to his 
personal wants, while the official duties of the Household 
might be discharged by men of good birth and education. 
Why should it be necessary to employ eunuchs for such 
posts ? 

"At the present time, the Court at Hsi-an employs an 
enormous number of eunuchs ; a favourable opportunity 
therefore presents itself for reducing their number, retaining 
only some twenty or thirty of the more respectable among 
them. Orders should be given, after the Court's return, 
that for the future no more eunuchs shall be engaged, and 
the Palace administration should be thoroughly reorganised. 
By this means, long-standing abuses will be removed, and 
the glory of your Majesty's reign will be enhanced for all 
time. 

" At this moment, many reforms are being projected, in 
regard to which Your Majesties have received numerous 
suggestions from many high officials. But in my opinion, 
this question of the employment of eunuchs, though 
apparently of minor importance, transcends all others, and 
the possibility of reform depends largely on their removal. 
The system has been abolished in all foreign countries and 
persists only in China. It exposes us to much adverse 
criticism and contumely, and by abolishing it we should 
gain the respect of civilised nations. As an official holding 
a provincial post, I am prohibited by law from criticising 
the administration of the Palace ; nevertheless, I hold it to 
be my duty at this juncture to offer my suggestions, 
however humble and worthless, in token of my gratitude to 
Your Majesties for your generous favours." 

Since that day, there have been repeated denunciations of 
the eunuch system, and rumours of their impending 
removal, but their influence shows little sign of diminution, 
and officials of the courage and integrity of T'ao Mo are a 

108 



TZtJ HSI AND THE EUNUCHS 

small minority in the Mandarinate. Reform measures on 
paper are numerous enough, measures forecasting self-denial 
and zeal for the common good at some future and undeter- 
mined date, but it is significant of the existing condition of 
affairs and the strong hold of the powers of reaction, that 
the native Press has lately passed from its former robust 
independence under complete official control, and that the 
voice of Young China, which formerly denounced the 
eunuchs and other causes of national degeneration, is but 
faintly heard in the land. 



109 



VII 

A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE 

The following secret Memorial, submitted by the Censor 
Wu K'o-tu, in 1873, casts no direct light on the life and 
character of the Empress Dowager; it is of permanent 
interest nevertheless, and valuable, in that it enables us to 
realise something of the unbounded arrogance of the Chinese 
official class and the childish ignorance of that Court in 
which Tzii Hsi lived and moved and had her being. 
Documents like these — their number is legion for those who 
look for them — throw into strong relief the futility of 
western diplomacy confronted by a national sentiment of 
contempt for the barbarian so deep-rooted and far-reaching ; 
and they make one wonder at the persistence of those 
comfortable delusions, those facile lines of least resistance, 
which the foreign Powers and their Legations have 
cherished to this day in spite of many humiliating 
experiences. And if, from the general, one returns to 
particular study of the remarkable woman whose personality 
dominated the destinies of men and the foreign relations of 
her country for half a century, the state of affairs revealed 
by documents like these must compel unstinted admiration 
for a mind so obviously superior to its environment. 
Finally, there lurks in this Memorial a certain quahty of 
(possibly unconscious) humour which may justify its inclu- 
sion, in the nature of an entremets, at this stage of our 
narrative : — 

110 



A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE 

''A Secret Memorial urging the Throne to put a stop to 
official wrangling and to excuse the Ministers of foreign 
nations from kneeling at audiences, in order that our 
magnanimity may he proved and our prestige exalted. A 
prayer based, moreover, on the fact that our demands in this 
matter ca^nnot he successfully pressed and that protracted 
discussion has so far resulted in a hopeless deadlock. 

" From the day when first the foreign Ministers asked to 
be permitted to present their credentials, nearly six months 
ago, our statesmen have discussed the question, without 
arriving at any solution of its difficulties. First, they 
debated whether the Ministers should be granted audience 
at all, and having agreed upon this, they proceeded to 
discuss whether they should be compelled to kneel. 

" In discussing this matter with certain minor officials, it 
has occurred to me to wonder wherein really lies the gravity 
of the question sufficient to justify all this bother and 
excitement ? As Mencius remarks, ' Why should the 
Superior Man engage in altercation with birds and beasts ? ' 

" I have heard, and beHeve, that the rulers of foreign 
nations are deposed by their subjects for all the world hke 
pawns on a chess board. I have seen with my own eyes the 
foreigners who live in Peking walking abroad, preceded by 
the females of their household either on foot or in sedan 
chairs ; the men folk following meekly in their rear, like 
servants — all unashamed. They have made some score of 
treaties with China, containing at least ten thousand written 
characters. Is there a word in any one of them concerning 
reverence for parents, or the cultivation of virtue and 
respect for the nine canons of rightful conduct ? No ! Is 
there one word in any one of them as to the observance of 
ceremony, as to duty, integrity and a proper sense of shame, 
the four cardinal principles of our nation ? Again, no ! All 
that they speak of is material profit. ' Such and such a clause 
implies benefits or profits for China.' They think only of 
profit, and with the meretricious hope of profit they beguile 
the Chinese people. These men know not even the meaning 
of duty and ceremony, wisdom and good faith, yet we 
profess, forsooth, to expect them to act as if they were 
endowed with the five cardinal virtues ! They know not the 

111 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

meaning of the Heaven-ordained relationship between Sove- 
reign and Minister, between father and son, husband and 
wife, elder and younger brother, friend and friend — yet we 
propose to require them to conform to the five principles of 
duty I It seems to me that one might as well bring together 
dogs and horses, goats and pigs, in a public hall and compel 
these creatures to perform the evolutions of the dance ! 

"If we insist upon their reverently kneeling, in what 
manner will it increase the lustre of the Throne's prestige ? 
If we excuse them from kneeling, how can this possibly 
affect the Sovereign's majesty ? 

" But our statesmen hold that long and careful deliberation 
before assenting to the foreigners' wishes in this matter wiU 
cause the latter to say : ' If so great pressure be required to 
extract even this trifling concession from Chma, how small 
must be our hopes of future success in dealing with great 
matters.' In this way, it is thought, we may cause their 
everlasting demands on China to cease, and we should thus 
gain, while they lose, prestige. But, in my humble opinion, 
our nation's prestige depends not on any foreigners' estimate 
of us, nor is their humiliation to be brought about in this 
way. If once they perceive that we attach a real importance 
to their kneeling at audience, and that we are loth to exempt 
them from this ceremony, while at the same time they 
are fully aware that we dare not go to war with them, they 
wiU simply insist the more firmly on their demands and 
threaten us with war if we fail to comply. Our weakness 
once exposed, they will stick at nothing. 

" I have heard that, in their despatches and treaties, the puny 
hobgobUn or petty monsters whom they have the audacity to 
call * Emperors ' are placed on a level of equality with His 
Sacred Majesty ! If our statesmen can brook an outrage 
like this and feel no shame, why should they trouble them- 
selves about the foreign Envoys' refusal to kneel? Two 
years ago, when the Russian barbarians were pressing in 
upon China from Hi and all the North-west, when they 
were seizing vast stretches of our territory, and carrying 
out their policy of aggression on a scale unparalleled in all 
the history of our relations with barbarians ; when their 
crafty and deep-laid plans threatened the Empire with the 

112 



A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE 

gravest dangers — our statesmen showed no sense of shame. 
But now, we are to beheve that there is humiUation to China 
in the Ministers' unwilUngness to kneel ! Our statesmen 
appear to imagine that if foreign nations dechne to comply 
with the formalities of Chinese etiquette, China will thereby 
be disgraced, but in my humble opinion, compliance on their 
part would jeopardise our country. From ancient times 
immemorial the policy of the Government has been guided 
by two main factors, viz., the exigencies of the moment and 
the amount of force available to carry out a given line 
of action. At the present moment China's position does 
not justify her in contending for this point and our national 
forces are quite inadequate to impose our will upon any 
other nation. China should therefore seek to develop 
efficiency and in the meantime resort to compromises. 

" A disciple of Confucius once asked the Sage in what lay 
the art of government. The Master replied that the three 
first requisites were, a sufficiency of food, a sufficiency of 
troops and the confidence of the people. The disciple then 
asked which of these three could be dispensed with, in case 
of urgent necessity? Confucius replied, 'Dispense first 
with the troops and next with the food supply.' From this 
we may learn that the Sage, aiming at perfection in the art 
of government, would approve of no rash or ill-considered 
action in deciding a matter of this kind. A clear course 
of action should be definitely pre-arranged by careful 
thought ; there should be no question of any hasty or 
immature decision, calculated only to involve the country in 
difficulties. Our statesmen ought, in the first instance, to 
have examined this Audience question in all its bearings, 
weighing carefully the issues involved, and should have con- 
sidered whether, in view of the relative strength of China 
and foreign nations, resistance was advisable. If China 
were not well aware of her own weakness, she would 
insist upon her rights, and without weighing the relative 
importance in each case ; but as, in the present instance, she 
does not feel strong enough to insist, the Ministers should 
have been told at once that the Throne would waive the 
question of their kneeling at audience, and that His Majesty 
would dispense in their case with the formalities and cere- 

113 1 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

monies required by the etiquette of the Chinese Court. By 
so doing we should have avoided the outward and visible 
manifestations of weakness, and foreigners would have been 
led to perceive how small is the importance we attach to 
them as individuals. Would not this be an example of 
enlightenment and statesmanship to impress Chinese and 
barbarians aUke ? 

" But no ; we must needs begin by raising objections to 
receiving the foreign Envoys, and then, having been com- 
pelled to yield this point, we proceeded to require them to 
kneel at audience. The only possible result of this will be 
that we shall finally have to yield to their protest ; but our 
acquiescence will perforce be performed with bad grace and 
with every appearance of an act performed under com- 
pulsion. It was precisely in this way that we blundered 
when we made the Treaty of Tientsin. I am convinced 
that the Throne's position will be an unenviable one if the 
views of these statesmen be adopted, and would suggest as a 
solution of the difficulty, that His Majesty should decide for 
himself, and inform his Councillors that the question is really 
one of minor importance. The foreign Ministers are not 
Chinese subjects ; why, then, should they conform to a 
Chinese ceremony ? If they were to do so, and if the 
ceremonial were slovenly or awkwardly performed, might it 
not become a burlesque ? And if the foreign Ministers were 
thus made to look ridiculous, would not China be violating 
the principle which lays down that we must ' treat strangers 
from afar with courtesy and consideration ' ? If it should 
happen — as well might be — that the spectators should be 
unable to control their mirth at so ridiculous a spectacle, 
might not the humiliation felt by the foreigners at their 
discomfiture, and their consequent rage, lead them to 
declare war against China ? It seems, therefore, advisable 
that the Throne should issue a Decree excusing the Envoys 
from performing the ceremonies of our Court, and, in the 
event of their ignorantly offending against any of the rules 
of etiquette, that we should exercise a wise forbearance. 
Our statesmen should refrain from querulous arguments ; 
chey should bear in mind that to dispute with these 
foreigners is unworthy of us. In this they will display the 

114 



A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE 

perfection of magnanimity. At the same time it should be 
carefully explained that this Decree is an act of clemency, 
of the Emperor's own initiative, and contrary to the advice 
of his Ministers. It must not serve as a precedent by reason 
of which foreigners may be led to demand other concessions 
from China, or to coerce her in other directions. By these 
means we shall preserve our self-respect, and at the same 
time prevent all possibility of our people attempting reprisals 
against foreigners, to avenge what they might regard as an 
insult to China. And for the rest, let us proceed to develop 
our strength, biding our time. 

" One word only would I add, of warning. It is possible^that 
the audacious and treacherous foreigners may endeavour to 
address His Majesty at audience. Our statesmen should be 
prepared in advance with the proper reply to make in such a 
case, so that they may avoid being put to sudden confusion. 

" I, the writer of this worthless Memorial, am but an 
ignorant inhabitant of a wild and remote district, and know 
nothing of affairs of State. Greatly daring and of rash 
utterance, I present this my Memorial, knowing the while 
that in so doing I risk the penalty of death." 

To this Memorial the following Rescript was issued by 
the Empresses Dowager : — 

" We have perused this Memorial and find it not lacking 
in point. The foreign Ministers are hereby permitted to 
appear at Audience and to act thereat in accordance with 
their own national Court ceremonies. Thus the Throne will 
display its benevolent indulgence to the strangers from 
afar and make a proper distinction between Chinese and 
barbarians." 

It is worthy of note that the author of the Memorial was 
the same upright and fearless Censor, Wu K'o-tu, whose 
name became a household word upon his committing suicide 
at the grave of T'ung-Chih, as an act of protest against the 
illegahty of the succession ordained by Tzti Hsi. If such 
were (and are) the views held by China's bravest and best, 

115 1 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

can we wonder at the absurdities that have led the ignorant 
masses to sudden uprisings and deeds of violence against the 
foreigners ? Wu K'o-tu's trenchant scorn of the sordid 
commercialism that marks the foreigners' Treaties, is typical 
of the attitude of the orthodox Chinese scholar. 



116 



VIII 



MAJORITY AND DEATH OF THE EMPEROR 

T UNG-CHIH 

In the eleventh year of T'ung-Chih (November 1872) the 
Empresses Dowager, as Co-Regents, issued a Decree, 
recounting the circumstances which had led to the Regency 
(which they once more described as having been thrust upon 
them), and announced the fact that His Majesty's education 
having been completed, they now proposed to hand over to 
him the reigns of government ; they therefore directed that 
the Court of Astronomers should select an auspicious day 
upon which His Majesty should assume control. The 
astrologers and soothsayers having announced that the 
26th day of the 1st Moon was of fortunate omen (wherein, 
as far as the Emperor was concerned, they lied), the Co- 
Regents issued on that day the last Decree of their first 
Regency, which is worth reproducing : — 

" His Majesty assumes to-day the control of the Govern- 
ment, and our joy at this auspicious event is in some degree 
blended with feelings of anxiety as to the possible results of 
this change ; but we bear in mind the fact that |his sacred 
Ancestors have all feared the Almighty, and endeavoured 
to follow in the sacred traditions of their predecessors. At 
the moment, peace has not been completely restored 
throughout the Empire, for rebellion is still rife in Yiimian, 
Shensi and the North- West region. It behoves the Emperor 
to bear steadily in mind the greatness of the task which God 
and his ancestors have laid upon him alone, and carefully to 

117 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

obey the House laws of the Dynasty in all things. When 
not actually engaged on business of State, he should employ 
his time in studying the classics and the precedents of 
history, carefully enquiring into the causes which have 
produced good or bad government, from the earliest times 
down to the present day. He should be thrifty and diligent, 
endeavouring to make perfect his government. This has 
been our one constant endeavour since we took upon our- 
selves the Regency, the one ideal that has been steadily 
before our eyes." 

The Decree concludes with the usual exhortation to the 
Grand Council and the high officers of the Provincial 
administration, to serve the Throne with zeal and loyalty. 

As far as the Emperor was concerned, these admirable 
sentiments appeared to have little or no effect, for his 
conduct from the outset was undutiful, not to say 
disrespectful, to his mother. Nor was this to be wondered 
at, when we remember that since his early boyhood he had 
shown a marked preference for the Empress Dowager of the 
East (Tzti An) and that he was well aware of the many 
dissensions and intrigues rife in the Palace generally, and 
particularly between the Co-Regents. He had now attained 
his seventeenth year, and, with it, something of the autocratic 
and imperious nature of his august parent. He was encour- 
aged in his independent attitude by the wife whom Tzu Hsi 
had chosen for him, the virtuous A-lu-te. This lady was 
of patrician origin, being a daughter of the assistant Imperial 
tutor, Ch'ung Ch'i. In the first flush of supreme authority, 
the boy Emperor and his young wife would appear to 
have completely ignored the danger of their position, 
but they were speedily to learn by bitter experience that 
Tzii Hsi was not to be opposed, and that to live peacefully 
with her in the Palace was an end that could only be 
attained by complete submission to her will. The first 
trouble arose from the Emperor's refusal to submit State 
documents for his mother's inspection, but there were 

118 



MAJORITY AND DEATH OF T'UNG-CHIH 

soon other and more serious causes of friction. But above 
and behind all lay the ominous fact that, in the event of an 
heir being born to the Emperor, A-lu-te would from that 
day become Empress mother, and in the event of the 
Emperor's subsequent decease, to her would belong by right 
the title of Empress Dowager, so that, come what might, 
Tzu Hsi would be relegated to a position of obscurity and 
insignificant authority. It is impossible to overlook this 
fact in forming our opinion of subsequent events, and 
especially of the motives which actuated the Empress 
Dowager when, after the death of T'ung-Chih, she insisted 
on the election of another infant Emperor at all costs and in 
violation of the sacred laws of Dynastic succession. Apart 
from her inability to brook any form of opposition and her 
absolutely unscrupulous methods for ridding herself of 
anything or anyone who stood in the path of her ambition, 
no impartial estimate of her action at this period can deny 
the fact that it was entirely to her interest that the Emperor 
T'ung-Chih should not have an heir, and that his Consort 
should follow him speedily, in the event of his " mounting 
the Dragon chariot, and proceeding on the long journey," 
All commentators agree that Tzu Hsi encouraged the 
youthful Emperor's tendencies to dissipated habits, and that, 
when these had resulted in a serious illness, she allowed it to 
wreck havoc with his delicate constitution, without 
providing him with such medical assistance as might have 
been available. One of the members of the Imperial 
Household, by name Kuei Ching,^ deploring the Emperor's 
licentious habits and foreseeing his early death, took occasion 
to urge that the deplorable influence exercised over him by 
disreputable eunuchs should be removed, and that greater 
care should be taken of his manners, morals and health. 
He even went so far, in his zeal, as to decapitate several of 
the offending eunuchs, but in so doing he incurred not only 

1 This Kuei Ching was an uncle of Tuan Fang, recently Viceroy of Chihli, 
and a man generally respected. 

119 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

the displeasure of the Empress Dowager, but of the 
Emperor himself, who desired neither criticism nor assistance 
from anyone around him. The unfortunate Kuei Ching 
was therefore compelled to resign his post, and to leave the 
Emperor to his fate. His colleagues, the Ministers of 
the Household, Wen Hsi and Kuei Pao, men of a very 
different stamp, and open partisans of the Empress 
Dowager, not only did nothing to restrain the Emperor 
from his vicious courses, but actually encouraged him, so that 
it became a matter of common knowledge and notorious in 
the capital that they and the Emperor together were wont 
to consort with all the evil characters in the worst localities 
of the Southern City. It became cause for scandal in the 
Palace itself that His Majesty would return from his orgies 
long after the hour fixed for the morning audience with his 
high officers of State. He was mixed up in many a 
drimken brawl and consorted with the lowest dregs of the 
Chinese city, so that it was no matter for surprise when he 
contracted the germs of disease which speedily led to his 
death. Already in 1873 it was apparent that the Dragon 
Throne would soon be vacant. In December 1874, he 
contracted smallpox and during his iUness the Empresses 
Dowager were called upon to assume control of the 
Government. Towards the end of the month, he issued the 
following Decree. 

" We have had the good fortune ^ this month to contract 
smaUpox, and their Majesties, the Empresses Dowager, 
have shown the greatest possible tenderness in the care 
for our person. They have also consented to peruse aU 
Memorials and State papers on our behalf, and to carry 
on the business of the State, for which we are deeply 
grateful. We feel bound to confer upon their Majesties 
additional titles of honour, so as to make some return, 
however small, for their infinite goodness." 

1 This disease is regarded amongst the Chinese as one of good omen, 
especially if the symptoms develop satisfactorily. 

120 



dUi 



MAJORITY AND DEATH OF T'UNG-CHIH 

The Emperor's enfeebled constitution was unable to 
resist the ravages of his combined diseases, and his physical 
condition became in the highest degree deplorable ; at 
8 p.m. on the 13th January 1875, in the presence of the 
Empresses Dowager and some twenty Princes and Ministers 
of the Household, he " ascended the Dragon " and was 
wafted on high. Amongst those present at his death-bed 
were the Princes Kung and Ch'un, as well as Tzii Hsi's 
devoted henchman and admirer Jung Lu. After the Em- 
peror's death, a Censor, bolder than his fellows, impeached 
the two Ministers of the Household who had openly encou- 
raged the Emperor in his dissipated courses, and Tzii Hsi, 
having no further use for their services, dismissed them from 
office. As further proof of her virtuous admiration for 
faithful service and disinterested conduct, she invited Kuei 
Ching to resume his appointment, praising his loyalty ; but 
he declined the invitation, having by this time formed 
his own opinion of the value of virtue in Her Majesty's 
service. 

The Emperor having died without issue, all would have 
been plain and meritorious sailing for Tzii Hsi and her 
retention of supreme power, had it not been for the un- 
pleasant fact, known to all the Court, that the Emperor's 
consort, A-lu-te, was enceinte and therefore might confer 
an heir on the deceased sovereign. In the event of a son 
being born, it was clear that both A-lu-te and Tzu An 
would ipso facto acquire authority theoretically higher than 
her own, since her title of Empress Mother had lapsed 
by the death of T'ung-Chih, and her original position 
was only that of a secondary consort. As the mother of 
the Emperor, she had by right occupied a predominant 
position during his minority, but this was now ended. It 
was to her motherhood that she had owed the first claims to 
power ; now she had nothing but her own boundless am- 
bition, courage and intelligence to take the place of lawful 
claims and natural ties. With the death of her son the 

121 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Emperor, and the near prospect of A-lu-te's confinement, 
it was clear that her own position would require desperate 
remedies, if her power was to remain undiminished. 

Among the senior members of the Imperial Clan, many of 
whom were jealous of the influence of the Yehonala branch, 
there was a strong movement in favour of placing on the 
Throne a grandson of the eldest son of the venerated 
Emperor Tao-Kuang, namely, the infant Prince P'u Lun, 
whose claims were excellent, in so far as he was of a genera- 
tion lower than the deceased T'ung-Chih, but complicated by 
the fact that his father had been adopted into the direct line 
from another branch. The Princes and nobles who favoured 
this choice pointed out that the infant P'u Lun was almost 
the only nominee who would satisfy the laws of succession 
and allow of the proper sacrifices being performed to the 
spirit of the deceased T'ung-Chih.^ 

Tzti Hsi, however, was too determined to retain her 
position and power to allow any weight to attach to senti- 
mental, religious, or other considerations. If, in order to 
secure her objects, a violation of the ancestral and House- 
laws were necessary, she was not the woman to hesitate, and 
she trusted to her own intelligence and the servility of her 
tools in the Censorate to put matters right, or, at least, to 
overcome all opposition. At this period she was on bad 
terms with her colleague and Co-Regent, whom she had 
never forgiven for her share in the decapitation of her Chief 
Eunuch, An Te-hai ; she hated and mistrusted Prince Kung, 
and there is hardly a doubt that she had resolved to get 
rid of the young Empress A-lu-te before the birth of her 
child. The only member of the Imperial family with whom 
she was at this time on intimate terms was her brother-in- 
law. Prince Ch'un, the seventh son of the Emperor Tao- 

1 The annual and seasonal sacrifices ab the ancestral Temple and at the 
Imperial tombs involve " kowtowing " before each tablet of the sacred 
ancestors, and this camiot be done in the presence of one of the same 
generation as the last deceased, much less by him. 

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1 



MAJORITY AND DEATH OF T'UNG-CHIH 

Kuang. This Prince, an able man, though dissolute in his 
habits, had married her favourite sister, the younger 
Yehonala, and it will, therefore, be readily understood that 
the reasons which actuated her in deciding to place this 
Prince's infant son upon the Throne were of the very 
strongest. During his minority she would continue to rule 
the Empire, and, should he live to come of age, her sister, 
the Emperor's mother, might be expected to exert her 
influence to keep him in the path of dutiful obedience. Tzu 
Hsi's objection to the son of Prince Kung was partly due to 
the fact that she had never forgiven his father for his share 
in the death of the eunuch. An Te-hai, and other 
offences, and partly because the young Prince was now in 
his seventeenth year, and would, therefore, almost imme- 
diately have assumed the Government in his own person. 
Tzu Hsi was aware that, in that event, it would be in 
accordance with tradition and the methods adopted by the 
stronger party in the Forbidden City for ridding itself of 
inconvenient rivals and conflicting authorities, that either 
she should be relegated to complete obscurity here below, or 
forcibly assisted on the road to Heaven. It was thus abso- 
lutely necessary for her to put a stop to this appointment, 
and, as usual, she acted with prompt thoroughness, which 
speedily triumphed over the disorganised effbrts of her 
opponents. By adroit intrigues, exercised chiefly through 
her favourite eunuch, she headed off* any attempt at co- 
operation between the supporters of Prince P'u Lun and 
those of Prince Kung, while, with the aid of Jung Lu and 
the appearance on the scene of a considerable force of 
Li Hung-chang's Anhui troops, she prepared the way for 
the success of her own plans ; her preparations made, she 
summoned a Council of the Clansmen and high officials, to 
elect and appoint the new Emperor. 

This solemn conclave took place in the Palace of " Mind 
Nurture," on the western side of the Forbidden City, about 
a quarter of a mile distant from the palace in which the 

123 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Emperor T'ung-Chih had expired. In addition to the 
Empresses Regent, those present numbered twenty-five in 
all, including several Princes and Imperial Clansmen, the 
members of the Grand Council, and several of the highest 
metropolitan officials ; but of all these, only five were 
Chinese. Prince Tsai Chih, the father of Prince P'u Lun, 
was there, as well as Prince Kung, both representing the 
proposed legitimate claims to the Throne. The approaches 
to the Palace were thronged with eunuchs, and Tzii Hsi 
had taken care, with the assistance of Jung Lu, that 
aU the strategical points in the Forbidden City should 
be held by troops on whose loyalty she could completely 
depend. Amongst them were many of Jung Lu's own 
Banner Corps, as well as detachments chiefly composed 
of members and adherents of the Yehonala clan. By Tzii 
Hsi's express orders, the newly-widowed Empress A-lu-te 
was excluded from the Council meeting, and remained 
dutifully weeping by the bedside of her departed lord, who 
had already been arrayed in the ceremonial Dragon robes. 

In the Council Chamber Tzii Hsi and her colleague sat 
opposite to each other on Thrones ; all the officials present 
were on their knees. Taking precedence as usual, and 
assuming as of right the rtle of chief speaker, Tzii Hsi 
began by remarking that no time must be lost in selecting 
the new Emperor ; it was not fitting that the Throne should 
remain vacant on the assumption that an heir would be 
bom to His late Majesty. Prince Kung ventured to disagree 
with this opinion, expressing the view that, as A-lu-te's child 
would shortly be born, there should be no difficulty in 
keeping back the news of the Emperor's death for a little 
while ; the child, if a boy, could then rightly and fittingly 
be placed on the Throne, while in the event of the post- 
humous child being a daughter, there would still be time 
enough to make selection of the Emperor's successor. The 
Princes and Clansmen appeared to side with this view, but 
Tzii Hsi brushed it aside, observing that there were still 

124 



MAJORITY AND DEATH OF T'UNG-CHIH 

rebellions unsuppressed in the south, and that if it were 
known that the Throne was empty, the Dynasty might very 
well be overthrown. " When the nest is destroyed, how 
many eggs will remain unbroken ? " she asked. The Grand 
Councillors and several senior statesmen, including the 
three Chinese representatives from the south, expressed 
agreement with this view, for they realised that, given 
conditions of unrest, the recently active Taiping rebels might 
very easily renew the anti-Dynastic movement. 

The Empress Dowager of the East then gave it as her 
opinion that Prince Kung's son should be chosen heir to the 
Throne ; Prince Kung, in accordance with the customary 
etiquette, kowtowed and professed unwillingness that such 
honour should fall to his family, and suggested that the 
youthful Prince P'u Lun should be elected. P'u Lun's father 
in turn pleaded the unworthiness of his offspring, not because 
he really felt any qualms on the subject, but because custom 
necessitated this self-denying attitude. " That has nothing 
to do with the case," said Tzti Hsi to the last speaker, " but 
as you are only the adopted son of Yi Wei " (the eldest son 
of the Emperor Tao-Kuang) " what precedent can any of 
you show for placing on the Throne the heir of an adopted 
son ? " Prince Kung, called f^upon to reply, hesitated, and 
suggested as a suitable precedent the case of a Ming Emperor 
of the fifteenth century canonised as Ying-Tsung. " That is 
a bad precedent," repHed the Empress, who had every pre- 
cedent of history at her finger ends. " The Emperor Ying- 
Tsung was not really the son of his predecessor, but was 
palmed off on the Emperor by one of the Imperial concu- 
bines. His reign was a period of disaster ; he was for a time 
in captivity under the Mongols and afterwards lived in 
retirement at Peking for eight years while the Throne was 
occupied by his brother." Turning next to her colleague 
she said, " As for me, I propose as heir to the Throne, Tsai 
Tien, the son of Yi Huan (Prince Ch'un), and advise you all 
that we lose no time." On hearing these words Prince Kung 

125 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

turned to his brother and angrily remarked : " Is the right of 
primogeniture ^ to be completely ignored ? " " Let the 
matter then be decided by taking a vote," said Tzii Hsi, and 
her colleague oiFered no objections. The result of the vote 
was that seven of the Princes, led by Prince Ch'un, voted 
for Prince P'u Lun, and three for the son of Prince Kung ; 
the remainder of the Council voted solidly for Tzii Hsi's 
nominee. The voting was done openly and the result was 
entirely due to the strong will and dominating personality of 
the woman whom all had for years recognised as the real 
ruler of China. When the voting was concluded, Tzu An, 
who was always more anxious for an amicable settlement 
than for prolonged discussion, intimated her willingness to 
leave all further arrangements in the hands of her colleague. 
It was now past nine o'clock, a furious dust-storm was raging 
and the night was bitterly cold, but Tzu Hsi, who never 
wasted time at moments of crisis, ordered a strong detach- 
ment of Household troops to be sent to the residence of 
Prince Ch'un in the Western City, and with it the Imperial 
yellow sedan chair with eight bearers, to bring the boy 
Emperor to the Palace. At the same time, to keep Prince 
Kung busy and out of harm's way, she gave him charge of 
the body of the dead Emperor, while she had the Palace 
surrounded and strongly guarded by Jung Lu's troops. It 
was in her careful attention to details of this kind that lay 
her marked superiority to the vacillating and unbusinesslike 
methods of those who opposed her, and it is this Napoleonic 
characteristic of the woman which explains much of the success 
that her own people frequently attributed to luck. Before 
midnight the little Emperor had been duly installed in the 
Palace, weeping bitterly upon his ill-omened coming to the 
Forbidden City. With him came his mother (Tzu Hsi's 
sister) and several nurses. The first event of his reign, 
imposed upon him, like much future misery, by dynastic 

^ Prince Kung was the sixth, Prince Ch'un the seventh, in order of 
seniority. 

126 



MAJORITY AND DEATH OF T'UNG-CHIH 

precedent, was to be taken at once to the Hall where his 
deceased predecessor was lying in State, and there to kowtow, 
as well as his tender years permitted, before the departed 
ruler. A Decree was thereupon issued in the names of the 
Empresses Dowager, who thus became once more Regents, 
announcing, " that they were absolutely compelled to select 
Tsai Tien for the Throne, and that he should become heir 
by adoption to his uncle Hsien-Feng, but that, so soon 
as he should have begotten a son, the Emperor T'ung-Chih 
would at once be provided with an heir." 

By this means the widowed Empress A-lu-te was 
completely passed over, and the claims of her posthumous 
son ignored in advance. Once more Tzti Hsi had gained an 
easy and complete victory. It was clear to those who left 
the Council Chamber after the issue of this Decree, that 
neither the young widowed Empress nor the unborn child of 
T'ung-Chih were likely to give much more trouble. 

For form's sake, and in accordance with dynastic pre- 
cedents, a Memorial was submitted by all the Ministers and 
Princes of the Household, begging their Majesties the 
Empresses to resume the Regency, who, on their part, went 
through the farce of acceding graciously to this request, on 
the time-honoured ground that during the Emperor's 
minority there must be some central authority to whom the 
officials of the Empire might look for the necessary guidance. 
It was only fitting and proper, however, that reluctance 
should be displayed, and Tzii Hsi's reply to the Memorial 
therefore observed that " the perusal of this Memorial has 
greatly increased our grief and sorrowful recognition of the 
exigencies of the times, for we had hoped that the Regency 
was merely a temporary measure of unusual expediency. 
Be it known that so soon as the Emperor shall have 
completed his education, we shall immediately hand over 
to him the affairs of the Government." 

The infant Emperor was understood to express " dutiful 
thanks to their Majesties for this virtuous act " and all the 

127 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

formalities of the tragic comedy were thus completed. The 
Empress Dowager gave orders that the repairs which had 
been begun at the Lake and Summer Palaces should now be 
stopped, the reason given being that the Empresses Regent 
would have no time nor desire for gaiety in the years to 
come ; the real reason being, however, that the death of the 
Emperor removed all necessity for their Majesties leaving 
the Forbidden City. 

Tzti Hsi's success in forcing her wishes upon the Grand 
Council and having her sister's infant son appointed to the 
Imperial succession, in opposition to the wishes of a power- 
ful party and in violation of the dynastic law, was entirely 
due to her energy and influence. The charm of her person- 
ality, and the convincing directness of her methods were 
more effective than all the forces of tradition. This fact, 
and her triumph, become the more remarkable when we 
bear in mind that she had been advised, and the Grand 
Council was aware, that the infant Emperor suffered from 
physical weaknesses which, even at that date, rendered it 
extremely unlikely that he would ever provide an heir to 
the Throne. Those who criticised her selection, knowing 
this, would have been therefore in a strong position had they 
not been lacking in courage and decision, since it was clear, 
if the fact were admitted, that Her Majesty's only possible 
motive was personal ambition. 

From that time until the death of the Emperor and 
her own, on the 14th and 15th November 1908, the behef 
was widespread, and not iafrequently expressed, that the 
Emperor, whose reign began thus inauspiciously, would not 
survive her, and there were many who predicted that his 
death would occur before the time came for him to assume 
supreme control of the Government. All foretold that Tzii 
Hsi would survive him, for the simple reason that only thus 
could she hope to regulate once more the succession and 
continue the Regency. The prophets of evil were wrong, as 
we know, inasmuch as Kuang-Hsii was allowed his years of 

128 



MAJORITY AND DEATH OF T'UNG-CHIH 

grace in control of affairs, but we know also that after 
the coup d'etat it was only the fear of an insurrection in the 
south that saved his life and prevented the accession of 
a new boy Emperor. 

The designation of the new reign was then ordered to be 
" Kuang-Hsii," meaning " glorious succession " ; it was 
chosen to emphasise the fact that the new Emperor was 
a direct lineal descendant of the last great Manchu Emperor, 
Tao-Kuang, and to suggest the hope that the evil days 
of Hsien-Feng and T'ung-Chih had come to an end. The 
next act of the Empresses Regent was to confer an 
honorific title upon the late Emperor's widow; but the 
honour was not sufficient to prevent her from committing 
suicide on the 27th of March as an act of protest at 
the grievous wrong done to her, to the memory of her 
husband and to the claims of his posthumous heir. This 
was the unofficial explanation current, but opinions have 
always differed, and must continue to differ, as to the truth 
of the suicide, there being many who, not unnaturally, 
accused Tzu Hsi of putting an end to the unfortunate 
woman. Against this the Empress's advocates observe that, 
having succeeded in obtaining the appointment of Kuang- 
Hsii to the Throne, and the matter being irrevocably settled, 
there existed no further necessity for any act of violence : 
but few, if any, suggest that had circumstances necessitated 
violent measures they would not have been taken. The 
balance of evidence is undoubtedly in the direction of foul 
play. But, however administered, it is certain that the 
death of the Empress A-lu-te influenced public opinion more 
profoundly than she could ever have done by living; as 
a result, thousands of Memorials poured in from the 
Censorate and the provinces, strongly protesting against the 
selection of the infant son of Prince Ch'un for the Throne, as 
a violation of all ancestral custom and the time-honoured 
laws of succession. It is significant that all these protests 
were clearly directed against Tzii Hsi, her colleague's 

129 K 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

nonentity being practically and generally recognised. For a 
time Tzti Hsi's popularity (and therefore the position of the 
Yehonala clan) was seriously affected, and when, four years 
later, the Censor, Wu K'o-tu, committed suicide near T'ung- 
Chih's grave to emphasise the seriousness of the crime and to 
focus pubUc attention on the matter, the Empress was 
compelled to bow to the storm and to give a second 
and more solemn pledge that the deceased Emperor should 
not permanently be left without heirs to perform for him the 
sacrifices of ancestral worship. It will be seen hereafter how 
she kept that pledge. 

Prince Ch'un, in the capacity of father to the new 
Emperor, submitted a Memorial asking leave to be 
permitted to resign his various offices, because, as an official, 
he would be bound to kowtow to the Emperor, and as a 
father he could not kowtow to his own son. In the course 
of this Memorial, which reminds the reader unpleasantly of 
Mr. Pecksniff, the Prince observes that when first informed 
of his son's selection as heir to the Dragon Throne, " he 
almost fainted and knew not what to do. When borne to 
his home, his body was trembling and his heart palpitating 
severely ; like a madman, or one who walks in dreams, was 
he, so that he incurred a serious recurrence of his liver 
trouble and the state of his health became really a matter ' 
for anxiety. He would prefer that the silent tomb should 
close forthwith over his remains rather than to continue 
to draw the breath of life as the useless son of the Emperor 
Tao-Kuang." 

The Empress Dowager, in reply, directed her faithful 
Ministers to devise a careful compromise " based on the 
special requirements of the case," the result of which was 
that Prince Ch'un was permitted to resign his offices and 
excused from attendance at all Court ceremonies involving 
obeisance to the Emperor, but was retained in a sort of 
general capacity as " adviser to the Empresses Regent " to 
serve when called upon. On the birthdays of the 

130 



MAJORITY AND DEATH OF T'UNG-CHIH 

Empresses Regent, he would be permitted to prostrate 
himself before them in private, and not as a member of the 
Court in attendance on the Emperor. His first class 
Princedom was made hereditary for ever, and he was 
commanded to give the benefit of his experience and sage 
counsel to his successor, Prince Tun, as officer commanding 
the Manchu Field Force — an order which he must have 
obeyed, for the Force in question became more and more 
notorious for its tatterdemalion uselessness and the 
corruption of its commanders. 

Remembering the institution of the first Regency, it will 
be noted how faithfully history can be made to repeat itself 
in the Celestial Empire. 



131 K 2 



IX 

THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

Immediately after the death of T'ung-Chih's young 
widow, the vahdity of the Imperial succession and the 
violation of all traditions which Tzii Hsi had committed, 
became a matter of grave concern to the conservative and 
more conscientious supporters of the Dynasty. The first 
evidence of dissatisfaction was contained in a Memorial 
submitted by a Manchu sub-Chancellor of the Grand 
Secretariat who, while accepting the situation as it stood 
in regard to the boy Emperor, Kuang-Hsii, stipulated 
that safeguards or guarantees should be given by the 
Throne for the eventual regulation of the succession and 
for the provision of heirs to His orbate Majesty, T'ung-Chih. 
The Memorial was as follows : — 

"The selection of an heir to the Throne is a matter 
resting entirely with the Sovereign and beyond scope of 
interference or criticism by any subject. But in cases where 
the arrangements made necessitate modification in order 
to render them perfect, a loyal subject is justified, if not 
compelled, to speak his mind freely. 

" The whole Empire looked forward to seeing our late 
Emperor enjoy a long and prosperous reign, but he has 
passed away without leaving any posterity. The selection 
of a successor which your Majesties the Empresses Dowager 
have, in your wisdom, decided upon is admirable no doubt, 
particularly since you have promised that an heir shall 
eventually be provided for His Majesty, T ung-Chih. This 
proves that in regulating the dynastic succession, you are 

132 



THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

proceeding precisely as if it were a case of adoption from 
one family into another : you have therefore wisely decided 
that not only shall a son be adopted to the late Emperor, 
but that in due course his succession will be carried on by a 
grandson in the direct line of generation, so that His 
Majesty's posterity may be established without a break, and 
perpetuated without intermission for all time. 

" The proposal in itself is excellent, but study of the 
Sung Dynasty's history has led me to view the matter 
with no small apprehension. The founder of that Dynasty, 
the Emperor Chao Kuang-yin (tenth century), following the 
directions of his mother the Empress Dowager, made his 
brother heir to the Throne instead of his son, it being under- 
stood that upon his brother's death the succession should 
revert to his son.^ Subsequently however, the brother, 
having come to the Throne, and having listened to the evil 
suggestions of his Privy Councillors, ignored the claims of 
his nephew, and placed his own son upon the Throne. In 
that instance, obedience to the wishes of his mother has 
brought down upon the Emperor Chao Kuang-yin the 
undjdng censure of posterity. If the Empress, on that 
occasion, had done her duty, and had caused unbreakable 
bonds to be given assuring the reversion of the succession to 
the direct Hne, no irregularities could possibly have occurred : 
the Decrees would have been as immovable as the Sacred 
Mountain, and as self-evident as the nine tripods of the 
Emperor Yii. It would have been impossible for any 
misguided Councillors of State to justify their unlawful 
interference with the rightful course of succession. 

" From all this we learn that the succession, although 
decided in a moment, affects all posterity. Was it not, 
moreover, by self-sacrifice and strong family affections ^ that 

^ On the occasion to which the Memorialist refers, the lawful heir to the 
Throne committed suicide. The allusion would be readily understood (if 
not appreciated) by the Empress Dowager, whose irregular choice of Kuang- 
Hsii and violation of the dynastic laws had certainly led to the death of 
A-lu-te. Looked at from the Chinese scholar's point of view, the innuendo 
was in the nature of a direct accusation. 

2 The writer refers to the united action of the Manchu Princes, and 
nobles who assisted in the establishment of law and order, and the expulsion 
of the Chinese rebels and Pretenders, during the troublous time of the first 
Regency (1644) and the minority of the infant Emperor, Shun-Chih. 

133 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

our Dynasty acquired the Empire : have we not for example 
the records of each succeeding virtuous Emperor ? We 
cannot therefore entertain any doubt but that the present 
Emperor, when he comes to have an heir, will forthwith 
make him son by adoption to the late Emperor, so that 
the succession may proceed along the direct line. No doubt 
this is the intention, but, as history shows, there exists a 
danger that, with the lapse of time, suggestions may be 
put forward similar to those of the Privy Council nine 
centuries ago, which would utterly frustrate the wise policy 
animating your Majesties the Empresses Dowager, and 
leave no fixed principles for posterity to follow. With your 
approval, therefore, we would ask that the Princes and 
Ministers be now required to draw up and record an un- 
breakable and unchangeable pledge as to the succession 
to the Throne, which should be proclaimed for the information 
of all your Majesties' subjects." 

Tzii Hsi was becoming decidedly irritable on this subject 
of the succession, and there can be little doubt that her 
own conscience and the views of patriotic Memorialists 
came to much the same conclusion. The Rescript which 
she issued on the present occasion was short, sharp, and 
suggestive of temper : — 

" We have already issued an absolutely clear Decree 
on this subject," she said, " providing for an heir to the 
late Emperor, and the Decree has been published all over 
the Empire. The Memorialist's present request gives evi- 
dence of unspeakable audacity and an inveterate habit of 
fault-finding, which has greatly enraged us, so that we hereby 
convey to him a stern rebuke." 

The Memorials and remonstrances of many high officials 
emphasised the seriousness of this question of the legitimacy 
of the Imperial succession to the nation at large, and its 
profound effect on the fundamental principles of ancestor 
worship. Nevertheless, having delivered their souls, the 
Mandarinate, led by the Peking Boards, were disposed to 
acquiesce in the fait accompli ; in any case, there was no 

134 



THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

sign of organised opinion in opposition to the will of the 
Empress Dowager. The irregularity was evidently serious, 
and Heaven would doubtless visit the sins of the Throne, 
as usual, on the unoffending " stupid people " ; but the 
individualism and mutual suspicion that pecuHarly distinguish 
the Chinese official world, precluded all idea of concerted 
action or remedial measures. 

One official, however, had the fuU courage of his con- 
victions, and, by the time-honoured expedient of self- 
destruction, focussed the attention of the nation on the 
gravity of the question, as no amount of fine writing could 
have done. Resort to suicide by indignant patriots, as a 
proof of their sincere distress, is a practice praised and 
justified ahke by historians in China and Japan, and there is 
no denjdng that, as an argument against all forms of 
despotism, it has the crowning merit of finahty. It has, 
moreover, certain qualities of deliberate courage and cultured 
philosophy that bring irresistibly to mind the Roman 
patrician at his best, and which fully account for the distinction 
which such a death confers amongst a people that loves its 
orthodoxies, as it loves peace, undisturbed. 

The name which will go down in Chinese history, as the 
defender of the national and true faith in connection with 
the illegal succession of the infant Emperor Kuang-Hsii, is 
that of the Censor, Wu K'o-tu, an upright and fearless 
scholar of the best type. For the reasons stated in his 
farewell Memorial, he waited four years after the death of 
the Emperor T'ung-Chih, hoping against hope that the wide- 
spread dissatisfaction of the literati and officials would take 
definite form, and lead the Empress Dowager to regulate the 
future succession, and to placate the disinherited ghost of 
T'ung-Chih, by the issue of a new Decree. Disappointed 
in this hope, he seized the classically correct occasion of the 
late Emperor's funeral (1879) to commit suicide near his 
grave, taking care to leave behind him a swan-song which, 
as he knew, will live long in the memory of scholars and 

135 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

officials throughout the Empire. His death had the imme- 
diate effect of convincing Tzii Hsi of error. Reahsing the 
strength of pubhc opinion underlying the Censor's protest, 
she endeavoured at once to placate his accusing spirit by 
giving the pledges for which he had pleaded, in regard to 
provision in the future of a successor to T'ung-Chih. Nor 
was it on this occasion only that the death of Wu K'o-tu 
influenced her actions and disturbed her superstitious mind. 
In after years, and especially at the time of the flight to 
Hsi-an, she recognised his influence, and the punishment of 
her misdeed, in the disasters which had overtaken the 
Throne. 

As an example of the principles of action, and the calm 
frame of mind which are the fine flower of the Confucian 
system of philosophy, and, therefore, worthy of our close 
and sympathetic study, we give the full story of the death 
of this patriotic protestant, as well as a translation of his 
Memorial. 

His suicide took place in a small temple at Ma-shen ch'iao, 
close to the mausoleum of T'ung-Chih. His minutely 
detailed instructions for the disposal of his remains, with the 
least possible trouble to his family and friends, bespeak the 
gentleman and the scholar. To the priest in charge of the 
shrine, a " bad man," he addressed the following characteristic 
letter : — 

" Priest Chou, be not afraid. I have no desire to bring 
evil upon you. I was compelled to borrow the use of your 
plot of hallowed ground, as a spot appropriate for the death 
of an honest man. Inform now the Magistrate at once, and 
see that the Memorial enclosed in my despatch box is for- 
warded without delay. Buy for me a cheap coflin and have 
it painted black inside. My clothes are all in order, only the 
leather soles of my boots require to be cut off" before you lay 
me in your coffin. I have cut my finger slightly, which 
accounts for the blood stains that you may notice. Twenty 
taels will be ample for my coffin. I should not think that 
the Magistrate will need to hold an inquest. Please have a 

136 



THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

coating of lacquer put on the coffin, to fill up any cracks in 
the joints, and have it nailed down, pending the Empresses' 
decision as to my remains. Then, buy a few feet of ground 
adjoining the late Emperor's tomb, and have me buried 
quickly.^ There is no need for me to be buried in my 
ancestral cemetery ; any spot is a good enough resting place 
for a loyal and honest man. 

" You will find forty-five taels in my box, of which you 
may keep the balance after paying for my coffin and burial 
expenses. As to my watch, and the other articles on my 
person, it is knovrai at my home exactly what I brought here 
with me. You must see to it that no one is permitted to 
insult my corpse, and my son will be deeply grateful to you 
for performing these last offices for me, in his place. You 
need not fear that the Magistrate's underlings will make 
trouble for you, but be careftil not to tamper with the box 
containing my Memorial to the Empresses. 

"You can cut my body down to-morrow morning, and 
then have it placed in some cool and shady spot. Fearing 
that possibly you might come in by accident and find me 
hanging, I have taken a dose of opium, so as to make certain 
of death. If you should dare to meddle with my private 
affairs, as you have been trying to do these past few days, it 
will only lead to your being mixed up in the case, which 
might bring you to grief. 

" All I ask of you is that you notify the Magistrate at 
once, and that you do not allow women and children to come 
in and gaze upon my remains. There is nothing strange or 
abnormal here ; death had become an unavoidable duty. 
Those who understand me, will pity ; that is all. The last 
earnest instructions of Wu K'o-tu." 

Next, to his son, he expressed his dying wishes in a letter 
which embodies many of the Confucian scholar's most 
cherished ideals and beliefs, a document pathetic in its simple 
dignity, its pride of ancient lineage and duty well done 
according to his lights. 

^ The burial place was close toj but necessarily outside, the large enclosed 
park which contains the Imperial mausolea. 

137 ' 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" Chih-huan, my son, be not alarmed when you hear the 
news of my death, and on no account allow your grief to 
disturb the family. Your mother is old, your wife is young, 
and my poor little grandchildren are but babies. Tell them 
that I am dead, but bid them not to grieve over my suicide. 
Our family tree goes back over five hundred years ; for two 
centuries there have been members of our clan among the 
Imperial concubines, and for three hundred years we have 
devoted ourselves to husbandry and scholarsliip. For 
eighteen generations our family has borne a good name ; I, 
who am now seventy years of age, can claim an unsullied 
record, although as a lad I was somewhat given to dissipa- 
tion. No man can truthfully accuse me of having failed to 
observe the main principles of duty, and it is for this reason 
that my friends and former pupils have always sought my 
services as a teacher of the Confucian doctrine. Quite 
recently I declined the pressing invitation of the Grand 
Secretary, the Marquis Tso Tsung-t'ang, who wished me to 
become tutor to his family, because the date was at hand 
for His late Majesty's burial, and I desired quietly to await 
to-day's event. 

" Ever since, at the age of twenty-four, 1 took my M. A. 
degree, I have been of prudent conduct, and have observed 
the proprieties in official life. In the study of history I 
have ever been deeply touched by examples of patriotism 
and loyalty to the Sovereign, and the splendid lives of the 
ancients have moved me, now to tears and again to 
exuberance of joy. 

" Upon the death of the late Emperor, I had determined to 
memorialise the Empresses Dowager, through the Censorate, 
and had fully made up my mind to accept my fate for so 
doing ; but an old friend, to whom I showed the draft, 
begged me not to forward it, not only because I had already 
been punished for similar rashness on a former occasion, but 
because he said some of its allusions to current events were 
not absolutely accurate. Therefore I waited until to-day, 
but now I can wait no longer. It is my wish to die, in order 
that the purpose of my life may be fittingly accomplished 
and a lifetime of loyalty consummated. My death is in no 
way due to the slanders which have been circulated about me. 

138 



THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

" When you receive this letter, come straightway to the 
Temple of the Threefold Duties at the bridge of the God 
of Horses, twelve miles to the east of Chi Chou and quite 
close to the Imperial mausolea. There seek out the Taoist 
priest, Chou ; he knows my burial place, and I have asked 
him to buy me a coffin and to have it painted black inside. 
My burial clothes are aU in order, but I have asked him to 
cut off the leather soles from my boots. ^ He is to buy a 
certain small piece of ground, close to the Imperial tomb, 
which is to be my grave. This will be far better than 
having my remains taken to the ancestral burial ground, and 
there is really no need for me to rest there, as my younger 
brother already lies beside your grandparents. He, you 
remember, committed suicide twenty years ago at his house 
in Peking, because of private troubles, and now I follow his 
example, because of disorder in the State. People will say, 
no doubt, that our family burial ground is become a place of 
evil omen, but pay no heed to them. No doubt you will 
desire to take home my remains, but do not so. Take instead 
my photograph, the one I had taken just before I left 
Peking, and have an enlargement of it hung up in our family 
hall. Thus shall you observe the old custom which preserves 
relics of the departed. Why go to the expense and trouble 
of transporting a coffin over a thousand miles ? 

"Even though it should happen that the Empresses 
should cause dire penalties to be inflicted upon my corpse 
because of my effrontery of language, you may be sure that 
in this enlightened age, there is no possibility of my offences 
being visited upon my wife and family. All you need do is 
to borrow from our friends money enough to take you from 
Peking, and after that, you must make the best of your way 
to our family home, begging if necessary. On no account 
must you remain in Peking, for by so doing you will only 
attract attention and further endanger your father. ^ 

" What I chiefly deprecate in you, my son, is your quick 
tongue ; you must really try to amend your ways in this 
respect and endeavour to be less hasty. If people tell you 

1 Burial clothes should all be new and clean — by cutting away the soles, 
his boots would look less shabby. 

2 I.e. by causing the Empresses to have his corpse mutilated. 

139 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

that your father was loyal, do not contradict them ; if they 
say he was an honest man, you should agree. Read care- 
fully the advice of Ma Yiian, the great General, to his 
nephew, and Wang Hou's admonitions to his sons. 

" When your mother married me she had good prospects, 
as the daughter of an old military family. Since her 
marriage she has dutifully served my parents, and her 
reputation for filial devotion is excellent. I regret that I 
was not destined to bring her happiness and good 
fortune : she is old now, and you alone are left to her. 
It is your duty to take her to our home and minister 
to her old age. 

" As regards the few poor acres of land left me by my 
father, I feel that I cannot reasonably expect you to follow 
the example of the ancient worthies and to surrender it all 
to your brothers, but at least I ask that you should allow 
them to live amicably with you. Your wife is a sensible 
woman — tell her from me that the happiness of every 
household depends on the temper of its womenfolk. I knew 
one woman who feigned death in order to induce her 
husband to treat his brothers more kindly, but this was a 
heroic act, far above the moral capacity of your wife. 

" As to the forty taels ^ which you will find on my 
person, you v^ll hand over to the Taoist priest, Chou, 
any balance there may remain after he has paid for my 
coffin and burial expenses. On arriving at Chi Chou, go at 
once and see the Magistrate, to whom I have written ; 
thence proceed to the temple, where you must give them 
some extra money to compensate them for all the trouble 
they have had. Thereafter return to Peking, and there 
await the Empresses' decision in regard to my case. 

"See to it that my small debts are all paid, that my 
life may end in fitting and harmonious dignity. At a 
moment like this, I am naturally agitated in mind. It 
is hard to foretell what the decision of the Empresses may 
be, but at least my conscience is clear, and what does 
anything else matter ? For your own personal safety, I 
do not think you need have any fear. 

" Present my compliments to Chang Chih-tung ; I only 

1 About £10. 

140 



THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

wish I could have had more of the old time talks with 
him. Go also to the Marquis Tso Tsung-t'ang. He has 
not treated me well of late, but slanders poisoned his 
sympathy, at which I do not wonder. The memory of 
lus former kindnesses is precious to me, and I know that 
he will never let you starve. 

"Your wife, in giving birth to my grandchildren, has 
conferred blessings upon me ; you must never think of 
allowing her parents to provide for you. Leave therefore at 
once for our family home. There must be no delay about 
this. As to the Taoist priest, it irks me to make use 
of people in this way. He is a bad man ; yet must we bear 
with him. Tell him that I regret having put his temple to 
this purpose ; he need only spend ten taels on my coffin and 
a few taels more for the little plot of ground to bury me in. 
I am a worthless official and deserve nothing better than this. 

" Why have I delayed so long ? Because I did not wish 
to disturb the Empresses with the news of my death at this 
critical time. All the Decrees which have appeared smce 
the Emperor Kuang-Hsii came to the Throne have moved 
me greatly, and much have I deplored my inability to serve 
Their Majesties better. In days of old, loyal servants of the 
State were wont to commit suicide as an act of remonstrance 
against the degeneracy of their Sovereigns. Not for a 
moment are the Empresses to be compared to monarchs like 
Ming Huang of the T'ang Dynasty, who deserted his capital 
before the invader, or Li Tsung, of the Sungs, whose 
fooUshness led to the Mongol wars. Nevertheless my death 
is due to the same principles as those which actuated those 
faithful Councillors. 

" Go home now, and teach your children to study. Do 
not open my Memorial to the Empresses. It is sealed, and 
I have asked the local Magistrate to forward it for 
presentation." 

His Memorial to the Throne was, in fact (as the letter to 
his son plainly indicates), an indictment of the degeneracy 
of the ruler of the Empire ; incidentally, it throws much 
light on the orthodox point of view in regard to the 
question of the Imperial succession. Its preamble sets 

141 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

forth the object with which it was written, and in the hope 
of which the writer died, namely, to induce the Empress 
Dowager to determine the future succession, providing an 
heir to the Emperor T'ung-Chih, in accordance with 
precedent and the laws of the Dynasty. The text of this 
remarkable document is as follows : — 

" I, your worthless servant, have heard that the fact of a 
nation being well governed does not necessarily preclude all 
possibility of anarchy, nor does a nation at peace dismiss 
altogether from mind the chances of violent disturbance ; 
should anarchy and rebellion be regarded as possibilities too 
remote to merit a thought, it were idle and superfluous to 
advise the Sovereign of so perfect a State. To ask the 
Imperial wisdom to see danger where no real peril exists 
would be simply inviting evil omens. 

" On a former occasion I, your guilty servant, wittingly 
incurred danger of death or imprisonment, because, in the 
heat of indignation, I dared to remonstrate with the Throne. 
At that time the Princes and Ministers about your Throne 
asked permission to subject me to a criminal enquiry, but 
His late Majesty T'ung-Chih was pleased to spare me, 
so that I neither suffered death by the headsman's sword 
nor imprisonment, nor did I run the risk of further exciting 
the Imperial wrath by my evidence before a criminal court. 
Thrice have I deserved, without receiving, the penalty of 
death. Without desiring my forfeit life, it was granted me, 
so that my last few years have been, as it were, a boon at 
the hands of His late Majesty. 

" But on the 5th day of the 12th Moon of the 13th year of 
T'ung-Chih the earth was rent and heaven itself was shaken 
by the great catastrophe, and on that day their Majesties 
the Empresses Dowager issued the following Decree : ' The 
departed Emperor has mounted the Dragon and is become a 
guest on high, leaving no heir to the Throne. We are 
compelled to appoint Tsai T'ien, son of Prince Ch'un, to be 
heir to His Majesty Hsien-Feng, to enter on the great 
inheritance as the new Emperor. When to him an heir 
shall be born, he shall become son by adoption to the late 
Emperor T'ung-Chih.' 

142 



THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

" 1, your unworthy servant, wept bitterly as, reverently 
kneeling, I read this Decree. I cannot but feel, after most 
careful consideration, that the Empresses Dowager have 
doubly erred in appointing an heir to the Emperor Hsien- 
Feng and not to His late Majesty. For thus the new 
Emperor, being heir to His Majesty Hsien-Feng, enters upon 
the great heritage not, as he should, by mandate of His late 
Majesty T'ung-Chih, but by mandate of the Empresses. 
Hence the future succession must, as a matter of course, 
revert to the heir of the new Emperor, even though there 
should be no explicit instructions to that effect. But, as this 
Decree expressly ordains that this shall be so, it follows that 
a precedent will be established, whereby the great inheritance 
may pass by adoption. 

"I, your unworthy servant, realise that it is no light matter 
for a loyal subject to refer to the future death of a Sovereign 
while that Sovereign is still alive, entitled to all his reverence 
and devotion. But, for more than two centuries, the 
ancestral tradition of our House-law has been observed that 
the Throne shall pass from father to son, and this law should 
be steadfastly maintained for ten thousand generations 
amongst those of us who recognise a common descent. 
Moreover, Prince Ch'un is a loyal statesman, justly revered 
by aU as a virtuous Prince. His Memorial has inspired 
every one of us with fresh feelings of enthusiastic loyalty. 
His words are but the mirror of his mind ; how could any 
falseness find therein a place ? When I perused his 
Memorial, tears of joy irrepressible fell from my eyes. 
If ever the Prince should learn of this my humble Memorial, 
he may perchance be wroth at my perversity or pity my 
folly ; at all events he will never blame me for endeavouring 
to stir up vain strife by my words. 

" The new Emperor is of gentle disposition ; from the 
Empress Dowager he had received the ' precious inheritance ' 
and until his dying day he will naturally be of one mind with 
the Empresses in this matter. But in the Palace there are 
sycophants as well as honest men, and many conflicting 
opinions. To take examples from history : at the beginning 
of the Sung Dynasty, even that great and good man the 
Grand Secretary Chao P'u, led the way in obeying the 

143 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

orders of the Empress Dowager Tu. Again, under the 
Ming Dynasty, a venerable servant of the State, the Grand 
Secretary Wang Chih, was ashamed that it should be left to 
a barbarian like Huang Kung (native of an aboriginal tribe 
in Kuangsi) to memorialise urging the lawful Heir Apparent 's 
succession to the Emperor Ching-T'ai, when no Chinese 
official dared to do so. If even virtuous men could act thus, 
what need to enquire about disloyal subjects ? If such be 
the conduct of old servants, how shall we blame upstarts ? 
To set aside settled ordinances may be bad, but how much 
worse is our case where no ordinances exist ? We should 
therefore seek if perchance we may find some way out of 
this double error, whereby we may return to the right way. 
I therefore beg that the Empresses may be pleased to issue a 
second Decree explicitly stating that the great inheritance 
shall hereafter revert to the adopted son of His late 
Majesty T'ung-Chih, and that no Minister shall be allowed 
to upset this Decree, even though the new Emperor be 
blessed with a hundred sons. If, in this way, the succession 
be rectified and the situation defined, so that further 
confusion be hereafter impossible, the House-law of the 
present Dynasty will be observed, which requires that the 
Throne be handed down from father to son. Thus, to the 
late Emperor, now childless, an heir will be provided and 
the Empresses Dowager will no longer be without a 
grandson. And, for all time, the orderly maintenance of the 
succession will be ascribed to the Empresses, whose fame will 
be changeless and unending. This is what I, your guilty 
servant, mean, when I say that the double error which has 
been committed may yet serve to bring us back to the right 
way. 

"I, your most unworthy slave, had intended to 
memorialise on this matter when His Majesty died, and to 
present the Memorial through the Censorate. But it occurred 
to me that, since I had lost my post, I was debarred from 
addressing the Throne. Besides, how grave a matter is this ! 
If advice in such a matter be given by a Prince or a Minister, 
it is called the sage and far-reaching counsel of a statesman ; 
but if it comes from a small and insignificant official it is 
called the idle utterance of a wanton babbler. Never could 

144 



THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

I have believed that the many wise and loyal statesmen of 
your Court could one and all regard this as a matter of no 
immediate urgency, dismissing it as a question unprofitable 
for discussion. I waited, therefore, and the precious moments 
passed, but none of them have moved in the matter. 

"Afterwards, having received renewed marks of the 
Imperial favour, and being again summoned to audience, I 
was granted the position of a Board Secretary, and placed 
on the Board of Appointments. This was more than four 
years ago ; yet all this time apparently not one of all the 
Ministers of your Court has even given this grave matter a 
moment's consideration. The day for His late Majesty's 
entombment has now arrived, and I fear that what has 
happened will gradually pass from the minds of men. The 
time, therefore, is short, and the reasons which led me to 
delay hold good no longer. Looking upward, as the divine 
soul of His Majesty soars heavenward on the Dragon, wist- 
fully I turn my eyes upon the Palace enclosure. Beholding 
the bows and arrows left behind on the Bridge Mountain,^ 
my thoughts turn to the cherished mementoes of my 
Sovereign. Humbly I offer up these years of life that have 
been added unto me by His Majesty's clemency ; humbly I 
lay them down in propitiation of the Empresses Dowager, to 
implore from them a brief Decree on behalf of the late 
Emperor. 

" But, on the point of leaving this world, I feel that my 
mind is confused. The text of this, my Memorial, lacks 
clearness ; there are manifold omissions in it. It has ever 
been my custom to revise a draft twice before handing in a 
Memorial, but on this occasion I have not been able to 
make such careful revision. I, your unworthy servant, am 
no scholar like to the men of old ; how, then, could I be calm 
and collected as they were wont to be ? Once there went a 
man to his death, and he could not walk erect. A bystander 
said to him ' Are you afraid, sir ? ' He replied, ' I am.' ' If 
you are afraid, why not turn back ? ' He replied, ' My fear 
is a private weakness ; my death is a public duty.' This is 
the condition in which I find myself to-day. ' When a bird 

1 The point whence^ according to legend, the Yellow Emperor ascended 
to heaven and where his clothes were buried. 

145 L 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

is dying its song is sad. When a man is dying his words 
are good.' ^ How could I, your worthless servant, dare to 
compare myself with the sage Tseng Tzu ? Though I am 
about to die, yet may my words not be good ; but 1 trust 
that the Empresses and the Emperor will pity my last sad 
utterance, regarding it neither as an evil omen nor the idle 
plaint of one who has no real cause for grief. Thus shall I 
die without regret. A statesman of the Sung Djniasty has 
remarked : * To discuss an event before it occurs is fool- 
hardy. But if one waits until it has occurred, speech is then 
too late, and, therefore, superfluous.' Foolhardiness not- 
withstanding, it is well that the Throne should be warned 
before events occur ; no Minister should ever have to 
reproach himself with having spoken too late. Heartily do 
I wish that my words may prove untrue, so that posterity 
may laugh at my folly. I do not desire that my words may 
be verified, for posterity to acclaim my wisdom. May it be 
my fate to resemble Tu Mu,^ even though to imitate him be 
a transgression of duty. May I be Hkened, rather, to Shih 
Ch'iu, the sight of whose dead body proved, as he had hoped, 
an effective rebuke to his erring Prince. Thus may my 
foolish but loyal words be justified in the end. 

" I pray the Empresses and Emperor to remember the 
example of Their Majesties Shun-Chih and K'ang-Hsi, 
in tempering justice with mercy : that they may promote 
peace and prosperity, by appointing only worthy men to 
public offices ; that they may refrain from striving for those 
objects which foreigners hold dear, for by such striving they 
will surely jeopardise the future of our Middle Kingdom ; 
that they may never initiate any of the innovations disdained 
by their ancestors, which would assuredly leave to posterity 
a heritage of woe. These are my last words, my last prayer, 
the end and crown of my life. 

^ A quotation from Tseng Tzu, one of the most noted disciples of 
Confucius. 

2 A sort of Chinese Mr. Malaprop, known to history as one who invari- I 
ably spoke at the wrong time. 



146 



THE PROTEST AND SUICIDE OF WU K'O-TU 

Postscript. 

"Having been a Censor, I venture thus to memorialise 
the Throne. But as my present official position does not 
permit of my forwarding this direct, I request the high 
officials of my Board to present it for me. As my name did 
not figure originally in the list of officials to represent 
my Board at the ceremonies preparatory to His late 
Majesty's burial, I begged the Grand Secretary Pao Yiin to 
allow me to be included in the Ust. Pao Yiin could not 
have foretold my suicide, so that no blame can attach to 
him for being my sponsor. Under our enlightened Dynasty, 
how could anyone imagine a return to the ancient and 
happily obsolete practice of being buried alive with one's 
Sovereign ? But my grief is too great and cannot be 
restrained ; for to-day my Sovereign returns, dragon- 
borne, to Heaven, and all the world weeps with me in woe 
unutterable. 

" I have respectfully but fully explained my feehngs 
in this question of the lawful succession to the Throne, 
and now, under the title of your guilty servant, I present 
this my Memorial." 



147 L 2 



X 

TZtJ HSI BECOMES SOLE REGENT 

The days of mourning for T'ung-Chih being done, his 
remains disposed of as auspiciously as the Court of Astro- 
nomers could desire, and his ghost placated, thanks to 
Wu K'o-tu, by solemn promises on the part of his mother 
to provide him with a suitable and legitimate heir in due 
season, life in the Forbidden City settled down once more 
into the old grooves under the joint Regency of the 
Empresses of the Eastern and Western Palaces. 

But before long the new Emperor, a nervous and dehcate 
boy, became, all unconsciously, a thorn in the side of the 
woman who put him on the Throne. As he passed from 
infancy to boyhood, it was a matter of common knowledge 
and report in the Palace that he showed a marked preference 
for the Empress Tzii An, who, by her kind and sympathetic 
treatment, had won the child's heart. In the innocence 
of his lonely youth he frequented therefore the Eastern 
Palace, while Tzii Hsi, whose pride could brook no rivals, 
even in the heart of a child, was compelled to look on, 
and to realise that the forming of the future ruler's mind 
was in the hands of another woman. There were not 
lacking those who told her that her colleague, secretly 
and with ulterior motives, encouraged the boy to oppose 
and displease her. Under these conditions, it was iuevit- 
able that the young Emperor should gradually become a 

148 




o 



a. 
< 



H 



TZU HSI BECOMES SOLE REGENT 

cause of increasing jealousy and friction between the two 
women. 

Tzii Hsi undoubtedly resented the boy's predilection 
as much as her colleague's action in encouraging it. At 
Court, where everyone and everything is a potential instru- 
ment for intrigue and party faction, the young Emperor's 
attitude could not fail to cause her grave concern. She 
was well aware that Tzu An could never become, of herself, 
a formidable rival, but should she hereafter enjoy the 
Emperor's confidence and support, and instigate him to 
become the centre of a faction against her (which he did), 
there might be danger in the situation for herself. As 
the Emperor's minority approached its end, it therefore 
became the more necessary for her to take all possible 
precautions. She had no intention of sharing the fate 
of that Empress Consort of Ch'ien Lung who was banished 
to the " Cold Palace " and whose honours and titles were 
taken from her on charges of " wild extravagance, love 
of the theatre and insubordination to the Emperor's 
mother." 

A further cause of friction occurred between the two 
Empresses Regent on the occasion of the Imperial progress 
to the Eastern tombs, in 1880, when the boy Emperor was 
nine years old. On this occasion, Tzii An, evidently 
prompted by Prince Kung to assert herself and her rights, 
insisted on taking precedence in all the ceremonies of the 
ancestral sacrifices at the Imperial Mausolea and at the 
prostrations which custom decrees shall be made before each 
of the "Jewelled Cities," as the mounds are called which 
cover the Imperial grave chambers. When their Majesties 
arrived at the grave of Hsien-Feng, there was serious friction. 
Tzu An, as the senior Consort of the deceased monarch, 
claimed as her right the central position, at the same time 
relegating her colleague to the place on her right, leaving the 
place of honour on the left unoccupied. Not content with 
this, Tzii An went on to remind her Co-Regent that, where 

149 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPKESS DOWAGER 

sacrifices to Hsien-Feng were in question, Tzii Hsi was 
entitled only to claim precedence as a senior concubine, her 
elevation to the position of Empress Mother having taken 
place after his decease. As a concubine, etiquette required 
her, during the sacrifice, to take a position on one side and 
slightly in the rear, while the vacant place of honour to 
Tzu An's left belonged to the shade of Hsien-Feng's first 
consort, who had died before his accession, but had been 
posthumously raised to the rank of senior Empress. Tzii 
Hsi, realising that this indignity was put upon her at the 
instigation of Prince Kung and the Princes of the Imperial 
family, had no intention of submitting, and peremptorily 
insisted upon taking the position to which her actual rank 
and authority entitled her. The quarrel was sharp but 
short. Tzii Hsi, as might have been expected, carried the 
day, but she felt that such a scene before the ancestral 
tombs, witnessed by a large entourage, was semi-sacrilegious 
and from every point of view unseemly. She had been made 
to lose face by the incident — clearly premeditated — and the 
fact had immediate eifect upon her subsequent actions and 
her relations with her colleague.^ 

At the time of this progress to the tombs, Jung Lu was 
in command of the Metropolitan Gendarmerie, entrusted 
with the duty of escorting their Majesties. Shortly after 
their return to Peking, however, he incurred her sharp 
displeasure by reason of conduct which Tzii Hsi was not 
likely to overlook, even in her chief favourite. Ever since 
the Jehol days of the Tsai Yiian conspiracy, and particularly 
during the crisis that followed the death of T'ung-Chih, this 

1 It is curious to note how frequently the Imperial tombs have been the 
scene of such unseemly wrangles, wherein grievances and passions, long 
pent up within the Palace precincts, find utterance. A case of this kind 
occurred in 1909^ on the occasion of the burial of Tzii Hsi, when the 
surviving consorts of T'ung-Chih and Kuang-Hsii, having quarrelled with 
the new Empress Dowager (Lung Yii) on a similar question of precedence, 
refused to return to the City and remained in dudgeon at the tombs until 
a special mission, under an Imperial Duke, was sent humbly to beg them to 
come back, to the no small scandal of the orthodox. 

150 



TZU HSI BECOMES SOLE REGENT 

powerful Manchu had enjoyed her favour and confidence in 
an unusual degree, and as Comptroller of her Household, he 
had the right of entree to the Forbidden City at all times. 
But in 1880, suffering no doubt from ennui induced by the 
inactivity of Court life, he committed the indiscretion of an 
intrigue with one of the ladies of the late Emperor's seraglio. 
Information of the scandal was laid before Her Majesty by 
the Imperial tutor Weng T'ung-ho, between whom and 
Jung Lu there was never love lost. It was commonly 
rumoured at Court, after the event, that Tzii Hsi, leaving 
nothing to chance, had herself discovered the culprit in the 
women's quarters of the Palace, a heinous offence. Be this 
as it may, Jung Lu was summarily, though quietly, deprived 
of all his posts, and for the next seven years he hved in 
retirement. In this case Tzu Hsi vindicated her pride at the 
expense of her own comfort and sense of security, and it was 
not long before she had reason to regret the absence of her 
most loyal and trusty adviser. Amongst her courtiers she 
found none to replace him ; she missed his wise counsel, 
courage and fidelity. But having once committed herself to 
the step of dismissing him, she was unwilling to lose face 
with him and with her Court by changing her mind. His 
removal, however, undoubtedly led to increased friction 
between herself and Tzu An, whom she suspected of being a 
party to Jung Lu's liaison. 

Finally, in March 1881, a serious quarrel took place 
between the two Empresses, on the subject of the influence 
which the Chief Eunuch Li Lien-ying had come to exercise, 
and the arrogance of his manner. Tzii An complained that 
this favourite and confidential servant of her colleague 
ignored her, setting her authority at nought, so that she was 
mocked even by her own subordinates. She deplored and 
denounced the existing state of affairs, commenting 
unpleasantly on the notorious fact that the eunuch was 
openly known by the title of " Lord of nine thousand 
years," a title which implied that he was but one degree 

151 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

lower than the Emperor (Lord of ten thousand years) and 
entitled to something approximating to Imperial honours.^ 

The quarrel on this occasion was exceedingly bitter, nor 
was any reconciliation subsequently effected between the 
Empresses. It is very generally believed, and was freely 
stated at the time, that, incensed beyond measure and 
impatient of any further interference with her authority, 
Tzii Hsi brought about the death of her colleague, which 
was commonly attributed to poison. In the atmosphere of 
an Oriental Court such charges are as inevitable as they are 
incapable of proof or disproof, and were it not for the 
unfortunate fact that those who stood in the way of Tzii 
Hsi's ambitions, or who incurred her displeasure, frequently 
failed to survive it, we should be justified in refusing to 
attach importance to the imputations of foul play raised on 
this and other occasions. But these occasions are too 
numerous to be entirely overlooked or regarded as simple 
coincidences. In the present instance, the Empress Tzii An 
fell ill of a sudden and mysterious sickness, and, in the words 
of the Imperial Decree, she " ascended the fairy chariot for . 
her distant journey" on the evening of the 10th day o|/ 
the 3rd Moon. In accordance with prescribed custom, shb 
drafted just before her decease a valedictory Decree which, 
as will be observed, touches hardly at all on the political 
questions of the day. These, even at the moment /of her 
death, she appeared to leave, as by established right, to her 
strong-minded colleague. After referring to her position as 
Senior Consort of the Emperor Hsien-Feng, and recording 
the fact that during his minority the young Emperor had 
done justice to liis education (in which she had always been 
much interested), the Edict proceeds as follows : — 

" In spite of the arduous duties of the State, which have 

1 This title was originally given to an infamous eunuch of the Court of 
the Ming Emperor Chu Yii-hsiao^ who, because of his influence over his 
dissolute master, was canonised by the latter after his death. The same title 
V^as plaimed and used by the Eunuch An Te-hai, vide supra, page 90. 

152 



TZU HSI BECOMES SOLE REGENT 

fully occupied my time, I was naturally of robust 
constitution and had therefore fully expected to attain to a 
good old age and to enjoy the Emperor's dutiful minis- 
trations. Yesterday, however, I was suddenly stricken with 
a slight illness and His Majesty thereupon commanded his 
physician to attend me ; later His Majesty came in person 
to enquire as to my health. And now, most unexpectedly, 
I have had a most dangerous relapse. At 7 p.m. this 
evening I became completely confused in mind and now all 
hope of my recovery appears to be vain. I am forty-five 
years of age and for close on twenty years have held the 
high position of a Regent of the Empire. Many honorific 
titles and ceremonies of congratulation have been bestowed 
upon me : what cause have I therefore for regret ? " 

At her request, and with that modesty which custom 
prescribes, the period of Imperial mourning was reduced 
from twenty-seven months to twenty-seven days. There 
is a human touch in the conclusion of this Decree which 
seems to preclude the conclusion that Tzu Hsi had any 
hand in its drafting, for it describes Tzu An as having been 
careful to "set a good example of thrift and sobriety in the 
Palace and to have steadily discountenanced all pomp and 
vain display in her share of the Court ceremonies." As most 
of the charges levelled for many years against Tzti Hsi by 
Censors and other high officials referred to her notorious 
extravagance, this, and Tzu An's last request for a modest 
funeral as the fitting conclusion to a modest life, were a 
palpable hit. 

Tzii An was dead. The playmate of her youth, the girl 
who had faced with her the solemn mysteries of the 
Forbidden City, the woman who later, because of her 
failure to provide an heir to the Throne, had effaced herself 
in favour of the Empress Mother, her poor-spirited rival of 
many years — Tzii An would trouble her no more. Hence- 
forth, without usurpation of authority, Tzii Hsi was free to 
direct the ship of State alone, sole Regent of the Empire. 

And with the death of her colleague came the desire to 

153 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

be free from the restraints of advice given by prescriptive 
right of long-standing authority, the ambition to be the 
only and undisputed controller of the nation's destinies, and 
acknowledged Head of the State. For many years — in fact, 
since the decapitation of her favourite eunuch, An Te-hai, 
by Prince Kung ^ and her Co-Regent — she had been on bad 
terms with that Prince, and jealous of his influence and 
well-earned reputation for statesmanship. The manner in 
which, years before, she had taken from him his title of 
Adviser to the Government has already been described. 
Unable to dispense with his services, desirous of profiting 
by his ripe experience, especially in foreign affkirs, she 
had borne with her Prime Minister grudgingly and of 
necessity. In 1884, however, she felt strong enough to stand 
alone, and the war with France (caused by the dispute as to 
China's claims to suzerainty over Tongking) gave her an 
opportunity and an excuse for getting rid at one stroke of 
Prince Kung and his colleagues of the Grand Council. 

The immediate pretext for their dismissal was the destruc- 
tion of the Chinese fleet of junks by the French in the Min 
River, but Her Majesty's real reason was that she believed 
that the Prince was intriguing against her with the young 
Emperor, and that he was to some extent responsible for a 
recent Memorial, in which several Censors had roundly 
denounced her for depraved morals and boundless extrava- 
gance. 

The Decree in which she dismissed this able adviser of 
the Throne is in her best manner, displaying many of the 
qualities which explain this remarkable woman's long and 
successful rule. The facts to which she refers have a direct 
and interesting connection with much subsequent history : — 

" Our country has not yet returned to its wonted stability, 
and its aff'airs are still in a critical state. There is chaos in 
the Government and a feeling of insecurity amongst the 

1 See above, page 93. 
154 



TZU HSl BECOMES SOLE REGENT 

people. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that 
there should be competent statesmen at the head of affairs, 
and that our Grand Council should be an efficient pivot and 
centre of administration. 

" Prince Kung, at the outset of his career, was wont to 
render us most zealous assistance ; but this attitude became 
modified, as time went by, to one of self-confident and 
callous contentment with the sweets of office, and of late he 
has become unduly inflated with his pride of place, dis- 
playing nepotism and slothful inefficiency. On occasions 
when we have urged the Grand Council to display zeal and 
single-hearted devotion to the State, he and his colleagues 
have ruthlessly stuck to their preconceived ideas, and have 
failed to carry out our orders, for which reason they have 
more than once been impeached, either on grounds of 
obstructiveness or general uselessness. It has even been 
said of them that their private fives are disreputable, and 
that they have dared to recommend persons for high 
office from improper and corrupt motives. 

" The House-laws of our Dynasty are most severe, and if 
there were any truth in the accusations of treason that have 
been made against Prince Kung, we should not hesitate for 
a single moment to inflict upon him the extreme penalty of 
the law. We do not believe, however, that he can have 
dared to act in the manner suggested. We set these aside, 
therefore, and will deal only with the other charges to wliich 
we have referred, and for which there would appear to be 
good foundation. They are in themselves more than sufficient 
to cause the gravest injury to the State, and if we continue 
to treat the Prince with leniency, how shall we justify our- 
selves hereafter in the eyes of our glorious ancestors ? We 
shaU incur no smaU blame in the eyes of posterity, and when 
the day comes for the Emperor to take over charge of the 
Government there can be no doubt that he would be fikely 
to fail, under such conditions, to shed lustre, by his reign, on 
the Dynasty. 

"If we were to make pubhc even one or two of the 
accusing Memorials that have reached us, it would be 
impossible for us, on ^grounds of privilege, to extenuate the 
Prince's faults, and we should be forced to cashier several of 

155 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

our senior advisers. In the magnanimity of our heart we 
shrink, however, from any such drastic steps, being moved 
to deep compassion at the thought that Prince Kung and 
his colleague, the Grand Secretary, Pao Yiin, should have 
served us so long and now have come to deserve our stern 
censure and severe punishment. We are prompted to 
leniency by remembrance of the fact that Prince Kung 
suffers from a complication of diseases, while Pao Yiin has 
reached an advanced old age. In recognition of their past 
merits we have, therefore, decided that their good fame 
may be left to them, and remain unsullied for the rest of 
their days. As a mark of our Imperial clemency we have 
decided to permit Prince Kung to retain his hereditary 
Princedom, together with all the emoluments thereof, but 
he is hereby deprived of all his offices, and the double salary 
which he has hitherto enjoyed is withdrawn. He is per- 
mitted to retire into private life and attend to the care of 
his health. 

"As regards the Grand Secretary, Pao Yiin, he also is 
allowed to retire from public life, retaining his present rank 
and titles. As for Li Hung-tsao,^ who has been a member 
of the Council for many years, his narrow views and lack of 
practical experience have caused him to fail completely in his 
duties. Finally, Ching Lien, the President of the Board of 
War, seems to think that his duties are satisfactorily per- 
formed by adherence to a routine of procrastination, the 
man being devoid of the first elements of knowledge. Both 
these officials are hereby relieved of their posts, to be 
employed in lower positions hereafter. Weng T'ung-ho, the 
President of the Board of Works, has only recently been 
appointed a member of the Council, at a time of serious 
complications, and has, so far, taken no active part in its 
proceedings. He therefore escapes censure or penalty. As 
a mark of our consideration we hereby remove him from his 
post on the Grand Council, but permit him to retain his 
position on the Board of Works, and he will continue 
his services as Tutor to the Emperor." 

1 Tzii Hsi had no love for this official, for it was he who drafted Hsien- 
Feng's valedictory Decree, at the dictation of Su Shun, in 1861. Vide 
page 33. 

156 



TZlT HSI BECOMES SOLE REGENT 

" For a long time past we have been quietly observing the 
behaviour and general tendencies of Prince Kung and his 
colleagues, and we are quite convinced in our mind that it is 
useless to look to them for any activity or awakening of their 
petrified energies. If they were retained in office, we firmly 
beheve that they would end by incurring severe punishment 
by causing some really serious disaster to the State. For 
this reason we now content ourselves with mild censure from 
a sense of pity, as a measure of precaution. It is not 
because of any trivial misdemeanour, or because of the 
impeachment by Censors that we thus dismiss from office a 
Prince of the Blood and these high Ministers of our 
Government, nor is our action taken on any sudden impulse 
and without full consideration." 

As the result of this Decree, Prince Kung retired from 
the scene, to remain in unemployed obscurity until 1894, 
when, after the first disasters of the war with Japan, 
Tzu Hsi, older and wiser, turned to him once more for 
assistance. He never completely regained the influence 
with the Empress which he had enjoyed in the earher days 
of the first Regency, but after his return to office until his 
death in 1898, his prestige, especially among foreigners, was 
great. Tzti Hsi, though she loved him not, was forced 
to admit that he had accepted and borne his degradation 
with dignity. 

After the issue of the above Decree, Prince Kung 
was succeeded in office by Prince Li, the head of the 
eight Princely families and a descendant of a younger 
son of Nurhachu. With him were associated on the Grand 
Council, amongst others, the elder brother of Chang Chih- 
tung and Sun Yu-wen.^ The latter was a bitter enemy 
of the Imperial Tutor, Weng T'ung-ho. In appointing him 

1 Sun remained in high favour until December 1894, when the Emperor 
was induced by Weng T'ung-ho to dismiss him. At that time the Empress 
was taking Uttle active part in the direction of affairs^ occupying her time 
with theatricals and other diversions at the Summer Palace^ and playing a 
watching game in politics, so that for a while Sun's life was in real danger. 

157 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

to the Council, Tzii Hsi followed her favourite tactics 
of creating dissension among her advisers and maintaining 
the equilibrium of her own authority as the resultant of 
their conflicting forces. 

Her Majesty's next step aroused a storm of opposition and 
criticism. She decreed that in all matters of urgency, the 
Grand Council, before advising the Throne, should confer 
with the Emperor's father. Prince Ch'un, but added that 
upon the Emperor's attaining his majority, she would issue 
further instructions on this subject. This was not only 
an entirely new and irregular departure, since it made 
the Emperor's father de facto head of the executive, but 
it implied the possibility of violation of the solemn pledges 
given to the nation in 1875, as to the provision of an heir to 
the Emperor T'ung-Chih. Fears were once more aroused 
in an acute form that Prince Ch'un might hereafter persuade 
his son to ignore the ancestral claims of the late Emperor, 
and thus constitute the house of Ch'un founders of a 
new line. The Prince would have great inducement to 
adopt this policy, as it would confer upon him and upon his 
wife (Tzii Hsi's sister) Imperial rank during their Uves 
and Imperial honours after their death. The reign of T'ung- 
Chih would in that case be practically expunged, going 
down to posterity dishonoured as the ignominious end of the 
senior branch of the Ta Ching Djnaasty, and the Yehonala 
clan would become of paramount influence. A wide field 
would thus be left for future dissensions, treasons, stratagems 
and Court intrigues. In fact the position thus created 
would be somewhat similar to that which arose from the 
rivalry of the Houses of York and Lancaster in English 
history. 

An Imperial Clansman, named Sheng Yii, and other 
scholars, memoriahsed in the most urgent terms praying 
the Empress to cancel this appointment and suggesting 
that if Prince Ch'un's advice were reaUy needed, it should 
be given to herself direct and not to the Grand Council. 

158 



TZU HSI BECOMES SOLE REGENT 

The writers advanced numerous arguments, all calculated to 
save the face of Prince Ch'un while preventing him from 
accepting the position. They doubted whether his health 
would stand the strain, and whether the duties of the post 
were consistent with his high calling ; at the same time 
they foresaw that a post which practically conferred the 
powers of a Dictator must undoubtedly make him unpopular, 
a result which Her Majesty herself would be the first to 
deplore. 

Besides, had not the Emperor Chia-Ch'ing declared (in 
1799) that Princes of the Blood were not eligible for service 
on the Grand Council, except in cases of urgent and excep- 
tional emergency ? 

" The truth is," they concluded, " that a Prince of the 
Blood, by virtue of his position, cannot be liable to the 
same punishments as ordinary subjects, and for this reason 
he should not hold a Government office. Prince Kung 
has held this high post, it is true, but this was merely 
temporary, and in any case, the power conferred upon him 
was much less than that which it is now proposed to confer 
upon Prince Ch'un. We therefore respectfully invite Your 
Majesty reverently to conform to the laws of the Dynasty, 
and to cancel the Decree conferring these functions upon 
Prince Ch'un." 

As final objections, the MemoriaHsts observed that the 
Prince could not be expected to attend every morning at 
the Palace, nor could he usurp the Imperial prerogative 
by expecting the Grand Council to meet at his residence ; 
and it would be irregular for the Censors to denounce any 
errors committed by a Prince of the Blood as head of the 
Council. 

The Censor Chao Erh-hsiin (an upright official who has 
since held office as Viceroy in Manchuria and in Ssii-Ch'uan) 
memorialised in the same sense, observing that the Grand 
Council would be superfluous if everything had to be referred 
to Prince Ch'un, whose position as father of the Emperor 

159 



'^ 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

made him impossible for this post, " Why," said he, " could 
not Her Majesty command the Prince to attend before her, 
whenever she needed his advice, and let him expound his 
views to her in person? There could be no objections to 
this course." 

To these remonstrances Tzu Hsi replied : 

" There is no doubt that the sage decisions of former Em- 
perors deserve to be treated with every consideration and 
respect, but it is to be observed that, ever since I assumed 
the Regency, I have been by circumstances compelled to 
confer regularly on confidential business with a Prince of the 
Blood. You must all be aware that this situation has been 
forced upon me owing to the exigencies of the times, and 
was none of my seeking. The Decree in which, some days 
ago, I appointed Prince Ch'un to be Adviser to the Council, 
had no reference to ordinary routine business, with which he 
has no concern, but only to urgent matters of State. I had 
not, and have not, any intention of giving him a definite 
appointment, and he himself was most reluctant to accept at 
my hands even this advisory position ; it was because of his 
repeated entreaties that I promised to issue further instruc- 
tions in the matter upon the Emperor's reaching his majority. 
The present arrangement is of a purely temporary nature. 
You cannot possibly reahse how great and numerous are the 
problems with which I have to deal single-handed. As to 
the Grand Council, let them beware of making Prince 
Chun's position an excuse for shirking their responsibilities. 
In conclusion, I wish that my Ministers would for the future 
pay more respect to the motives with actuate their Sovereign's 
actions, and abstain from troubling me with their querulous 
criticisms. The MemoriaUsts' requests are hereby refused." 

Rescripts of this kind are curiously suggestive of Queen 
Elizabeth, and her manner of dealing with similar petitions 
from her loyal and dutiful subjects. 



160 



XI 
TZIJ HSI "EN RETRAITE " 

In 1887 Kuang-Hsii completed his seventeenth year, 
and Tzii Hsi saw herself confronted by the necessity of 
surrendering to him the outward and visible signs of 
sovereignty. The change was naturally viewed with 
apprehension by those of her courtiers and kinsmen who 
for the last ten years had basked in the sunshine of her 
unfettered authority and patronage, whose places and 
privileges might well be endangered by a new regime. 
When, therefore, as in duty bound, she expressed a desire to 
retire from public life, it was not surprising that urgent 
petitions and remonstrances poured in, begging her to 
continue yet a little while in control of affairs, nor that she 
should finally allow herself to be persuaded. It was not 
until February 1889 that she definitely handed over the 
reins of government to the Emperor, on the occasion of 
his marriage to the daughter of her brother, Duke Kuei 
Hsiang. 

Tzii Hsi was now fifty-five years of age. For nearly thirty 
years she had been de facto ruler of the Celestial Empire. 
She had tasted the sweets of autocracy, had satisfied all her 
instincts of dominion, and it seemed as if she were not un- 
willing to enjoy the fruit of her labours and to exchange the 
formal routine of the Forbidden City for the pleasures and 
comparative freedom of life at the Summer Palace, which 
was now in course of reconstruction. Always avid of move- 

161 M 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

ment and change, weary of the increasing toil of audiences 
and Rescripts, apprehensive, too, of the steadily increasing 
pressure of the earth-hungry Powers on China's frontiers, 
she could not fail to be attracted by the prospect of a life of 
gilded leisure and recreation. Nor could she have remained 
on the Throne, Kuang-Hsii being ahve, without an overt 
and flagrant act of usurpation for which, until he had been 
tried and found wanting, there was no possible justification. 
Certain writers, foreign and Chinese, have imputed to her at 
this period a policy of reculer pour mieux sauter, suggesting 
that her hand, though hidden, was never really withdrawn 
from the affairs of the Forbidden City. To some extent the 
suggestion is justifiable ; but Tzu Hsi's retirement in the 
I-Ho Yiian lasted, roughly speaking, for ten years, during a 
considerable portion of which period she undoubtedly ceased 
to concern herself with affairs of State, other than those 
which directly affected the replenishing of her privy purse. 

But while divesting herself of the outward and visible 
signs of rulership, Tzii Hsi had no intention of becoming a 
negligible quantity, or of losing touch with current events. 
From her luxurious retreat at the foot of the hills which 
shelter Peking, she could keep close watch on the doings of 
the Emperor, and protect the interests of her personal 
adherents in the capital and the provinces. Her power of 
appointing and dismissing officials, which drew much of its 
inspiration from the Chief Eunuch, was never surrendered. 

In marrying the Emperor to her favourite niece, Tzii Hsi 
intended to avoid a repetition of the mistake which she had 
committed in the case of her son, the Emperor T'ung-Chih, 
whose marriage with the virtuous and courageous A-lu-te 
had resulted in dangerous intrigues against herself, until 
death had removed the offenders. Warned by this expe- 
rience, she made her selection in the present instance less 
with a view to the Emperor's fehcity than to the furtherance 
of her own purposes, which necessitated the presence by his 
side of someone who would watch over, and report on, his 

162 



TZU HSI "EN RETRAITE" 

proceedings and proclivities. This part her niece played to 
perfection. In appearance she was unattractive, and in 
disposition and temper unsympathetic, but she possessed a 
considerable share of the Yehonala intelligence and strength 
of will. From the very first she was on bad terms with the 
Emperor. It was no secret at Court that they indulged in 
fierce and protracted quarrels, in which the young Empress 
generally came off victorious. As a natural result, Kuang- 
Hsii developed and showed a marked preference for the 
society of his two senior concubines, known respectively as 
the " Pearl " and " Lustrous " consorts. 

Upon the Emperor's assumption of rulership, there was 
shown a strong feeling amongst the senior members of 
the Yehonala clan that the opportunity should be taken to 
consolidate its position and power by conferring on the 
Emperor's father rank in the hierarchy higher than that 
which he had hitherto held, with a view to his ultimate 
canonisation as Emperor. The manner in which this 
proposal was put forward, and Tzii Hsi's refusal to act upon 
it — while giving all possible " face " to Prince Ch'un — throw 
light upon one of the undercurrents of China's dynastic 
affairs which are so difficult for Europeans to follow. 

The views of Prince Ch'un's adherents were voiced in 
a Memorial addressed to the Empress Dowager by Wu Ta- 
ch'eng, formerly Vice-President of the Censorate, who 
at that time held the post of Director of the Yellow River 
Conservancy. This Memorial, after referring to the services 
rendered by Prince Ch'un as head of the Admiralty, and 
praising his patriotism, zeal and extreme modesty, proceeded 
to observe that he was, after all, the Emperor's own father, 
and, as such, entitled to higher respect in a Dynasty which 
" won the Empire by virtue of its respect for filial piety." 
The Memorialist further recommended that the Son of 
Heaven should be authorised to grant special recognition 
and honour to his parent, on the principle laid down by 
Mencius that " the main principle underlying aU ceremonies 

163 M 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

is that satisfaction should be felt by those concerned." As 
usual, the Memorialist strengthened his request with reference 
to historical precedents, and quoted a case, referred to 
by the Emperor Ch'ien Lung in his edition of Chu Hsi's 
famous historical work, where two parties in the State under 
the Sung Dynasty disagreed as to the title to be accorded to 
the father of the Emperor (a.d. 1050). In that instance the 
opinion of His Majesty Ch'ien-Lung (as a commentator) 
was opposed to that of the historians, for he supported the 
contention that the Emperor's father, as a simple matter of 
filial piety, is entitled to special honour. He quoted a case 
where, under the Ming D5masty (1525), the Emperor desired 
to have his father raised to the rank of Emperor, although 
he also had been born only to princely rank ; in other 
words, the Emperor Ch'ien Lung, who is justly regarded as 
the highest authority on precedents produced by the 
present Dynasty, placed the blood- tie between father and son 
above all the theories and conventions that might be raised 
by courtiers as to their official relationship. The Memorialist 
concluded by recommending that the title of " Imperial 
father" be given to Prince Ch'un, and that the Empress 
Dowager should announce this as the last act of her 
rule, so that His Majesty's filial piety might be fittingly 
displayed. 

There is every reason to beheve that the above Memorial 
was inspired in the high quarters immediately concerned, so 
as to afford Her Majesty an opportunity for putting on 
record her own views, while bestowing great honour on the 
house of Ch'un. After praising the Prince and his unswerv- 
ing loyalty, she continues : — 

" Whenever I have wished to bestow any special honour 
upon him, he has refused it with tears in his eyes. On one 
occasion I granted him permission to ride in a sedan chair 
with curtains of apricot yellow^ silk, but not once has he 

1 Apricot yellow is a colour reserved, strictly speaking, for the use of the 
Throne. 

164 



TZU HSI "EN RETRAITE" 

ventured to avail himself of this honour. He has thus 
displayed his loyalty and unselfish modesty, already weU 
known to my people as well as to myself. 

" Years ago, in the first month of the present reign, the 
Prince put in a secret Memorial, in which, after reciting 
numerous precedents, he expressed a fear that the very 
example which has now been cited by the present Memoralist 
(Wu Ta-ch'eng) might be used by sycophants and other evil 
persons to advance improper proposals on his behalf. For 
this reason he handed in his secret Memorial in advance, with 
a request that, when the Emperor should attain his majority, 
no change whatsoever should be made in his own rank and 
titles. Never was there a more brilliant example of devoted 
service by a Minister of the Cro\\Ti, and, while heartily 
praising him, I yielded reluctantly to his request. Now that I 
am about to hand over the reins of Government, the very 
thing that Prince Ch'un feared has come to pass, and I 
therefore feel bound to take this occasion to publish to the 
world his original Memorial, so that none may hope to work 
mischief by any further proposals of a similar kind, and that 
this worthy Prince "s sincerity, thus manifested, may become 
an example for all to follow." 

Prince Chun's original Memorial, dated 1875, is of no 
particular interest except in that it reveals, even at that date, 
a sense of the dangers arising from the confusion of the Imperial 
succession and considerable anxiety as to the future adjust- 
ment of the situation. His own object in declining further 
honours was clearly stated to be that he wished to prevent 
sycophants and persons of doubtful loyalty from establishing 
claims upon him or forming a party in the Forbidden City, 
which (it may be observed) has actually come to pass. He 
deplored the possibility that when His Majesty the Emperor 
begins to rule in person, " officials of obscure origin may be 
led to think that, by artful and treasonable suggestions, they 
may delude His Majesty and thus rise to high office by 
creating opportunities of dissension." 

The rank of the Emperor's father therefore remained that 

165 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

of an hereditary Prince, but there is no doubt that the matter 
is by no means disposed of, and may possibly be revived upon 
the conclusion of the present Regent's term of office.^ 

Shortly after Tzii Hsi's retirement from public affairs the 
Emperor's father, Prince Ch'un, fell ill of a sickness which 
increased until, on 1st January 1891, he died. In 1890, the 
Censorate, deeply concerned for a strict observance of the 
laws and ceremonial etiquette of fihal piety, took occasion, 
in a Memorial of remonstrance, to draw Her Majesty's 
attention to her duty, and that of the Emperor, of visiting 
the invalid. Tzii Hsi's reply took the form of a rebuke to 
the Censors, whom she bluntly directed to mind their own 
business, in a manner which forcibly brings to mind Queen 
Elizabeth's methods of dealing with similar remonstrances. 
Nevertheless she took the hint and thenceforward, through- 
out the summer of 1890, she paid repeated visits to Prince 
Ch'un's bedside. 

This Prince had always been a favourite vdth Tzu Hsi, 
who greatly preferred him to his elder brothers ; she regretted 
his death and felt the loss of his wise and fearless counsel, 
which had often guided her policy. He was a staunch 
Manchu, jealous of the power and privileges of the Clans, 
and will long be remembered in Chinese history for the 
remark which he made at a meeting of the Council after 
the campaign in Tongking. " It were better," said he, 
" to hand over the Empire to the foreign devils, than to 
surrender it at the dictation of these Chinese rebels," a 
remark which was prompted by the growing discontent of 
the province of Canton against the Manchus and their 
rule. 

In her Decree recording the Prince's death and praising his 
eminent services as Chamberlain of the Palace, Head of the 

1 In that event it would not be the Yehonala clan alone which would 
benefit^ as the present Emperor's grandmother (who was one of Prince Ch'un's 
concubines) is still alive and would necessarily share in any honours post- 
humously conferred on her husband, whilst Kuang-Hsii's mother would be 
excluded. 

166 



TZU HSI "EN RETRAITE " 

Navy^ and Commander of the Manchu Field Force, Tzu 
Hsi gave detailed instructions for the mourning and funeral 
ceremonies, donating in her own name a Tibetan prayer 
coverlet for the body. She conferred upon him the some- 
what obvious (but according to Chinese ideas, highly 
honourable) title of " deceased father of the Emperor " 
and ordered that the funeral should be upon a scale 
" which shall simultaneously display His Majesty's favour 
and his sense of filial piety," due care being taken at 
the same time not to outrage the deceased's conspicuous 
modesty. By these means, which were in accordance with 
her guiding principle of the " happy mean," she hoped to set 
at rest all question of " usurping tendencies " and to reassure 
the Aisin Gioros as to their fears of the undue ambition of the 
house of Ch'un. Finally, in accordance with the precedent 
established by the Emperor Ch'ien-Lung, she decreed 
that the late Prince's residence should be divided into two 
portions, one to be set aside as his own ancestral Hall and 
the other as a shrine (it being the birthplace) of his Majesty 
Kuang-Hsli. 

In 1894 the Empress Dowager reached her sixtieth year, 
which, according to Chinese ideas, is an event caUing for 
special thanksgiving and honour. Secure in her great and 
increasing popularity, safely entrenched in her prestige and 
influence, the Old Buddha had expected to devote her 
leisure at the Summer Palace to preparations for celebrating 
this anniversary on a scale of unparalleled magnificence. 
The I-Ho Yiian, as the Summer Palace is called,^ had been 
entirely rebuilt, by the Emperor's orders, with funds taken 
from the Navy Department and other Government Boards 
since 1889, and had just been completed. Most of the high 
provincial authorities had been summoned to the capital to 

^ The results of the Prince's eminent services in naval and military re- 
organisation were demonstrated three years later^ not entirely to the nation's 
satisfaction, in the war with Japan. 

2 From a sentence in the Book of Rites^ which means " to give rest and 
peace to Heaven-sent old age." 

167 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

take part in these festivities (and, incidentally, to help to pay 
for them), and amongst them the faithful Jung Lu returned 
once more to his mistress's side, in high favour, as General 
in command of the Forces at Peking. (For the last three 
years he had been at Hsi-an, holding the sinecure post of 
Tartar General. ) Every high official in the Empire had been 
" invited " to contribute twenty-five per cent, of his salary 
as a birthday gift to Her Majesty, and the total amount 
of these offerings must have amounted to several millions 
of taels. Everything pointed to festivities of great 
splendour ; orders had already been given for the erection 
of triumphal arches in her honour throughout the whole 
five miles of the Imperial highway between Peking and the 
Summer Palace, when the continued disasters which over- 
took China's forces, immediately after the outbreak of the 
war with Japan, caused Her Majesty to reconsider the 
situation, and eventually to cancel all arrangements for the 
celebration. In the Emperor's name she issued the following 
somewhat pathetic Decree : — 

" The auspicious occasion of my sixtieth birthday, occurring 
in the 10th Moon of this year, was to have been a joyful 
event, in which the whole nation would unite in paying 
to me loyal and dutiful homage. It had been intended that 
His Majesty the Emperor, accompanied by the whole Court, 
should proceed to offer congratulations to me, and make 
obeisance at the Summer Palace, and my officials and people 
have subscribed funds wherewith to raise triumphal arches, 
and to decorate the Imperial highway throughout its entire 
length from Peking to the I-Ho Yiian ; high altars have 
been erected where Buddhist Sutras were to have been 
recited in my honour. I was not disposed to be unduly 
obstinate and to insist on refusing these honours, because, at 
the time that the celebration was planned, my people were 
enjoying peace and prosperity ; moreover, there is precedent 
for such displays of pageantry and rejoicing in the occasions 
on which the Emperors K'ang-Hsi and Ch'ien-Lung cele- 
brated their sixtieth birthdays. I, therefore, consented to 

168 



TZU HSI "EN RETRAITE" 

His Majesty's filial request, and decided to receive birthday 
congratulations at the Summer Palace. Who would ever have 
anticipated that the Japanese (Uterally, ' dwarf men ') would 
have dared to force us into hostilities, and that since the 
beginning of the summer they have invaded our tributary 
State (Corea) and destroyed our fleet ? We had no alterna- 
tive but to draw the sword and to commence a punitive 
campaign ; at this moment our armies are pressing to the 
front. The people of both nations (China and Corea) are 
now involved in all the horrors of war, and I am continually 
haunted by the thought of their distress ; therefore, I have 
issued a grant of three million taels from my privy purse for 
the maintenance and relief of our troops at the front. 

" Although the date of my birthday is drawing close, how 
could I have the heart, at such a time, to deHght my senses 
with revelries, or to receive from my subjects congratulations 
which could only be sincere if we had won a glorious 
victory ? I therefore decree that the ceremonies to be 
observed on my birthday shall be performed at the Palace 
in Peking, and all preparations at the Summer Palace shall 
be abandoned forthwith. The words of the Empress." 

To which the Emperor adds the filial remark on his own 
account : " That Her Majesty had acted in accordance with 
the admirable virtue which always distinguished her, and 
that, in spite of his own wishes, he was bound reverently to 
obey her orders in the matter." 

China's complete and ignominious defeat by the Japanese 
forces undoubtedly inflicted no small loss of prestige on the 
Manchu Dynasty, and was a direct cause of the violent agi- 
tation of the Southern Provinces for reform, which led in turn 
to the coup d'etat and to the Boxer rising. It is doubtful 
whether war could have been avoided without even greater 
sacrifices and humiliation, and the Empress Dowager showed 
her usual sagacity therefore in refraining from expressing 
any opinion or taking any share of responsibility in the 
decision taken by the Emperor. She knew, moreover, that, 
by the action and advice of her Chief Eunuch, the Navy 
had for years been starved in order to provide her with 

169 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

funds to rebuild and decorate the Summer Palace, a fact 
of which some of China's most distinguished advisers were 
at that time unaware. 

As Viceroy of the Metropolitan Province, Li Hung-chang 
was generally blamed for advising the Court to maintain 
China's suzerainty over Corea by force of arms, but, speaking 
from personal knowledge of this subject, we may state that, 
like many other Ministers similarly situated, he hesitated 
until the very last moment before taking risks which he 
knew to be enormous in both directions. The documents 
upon which history might have been written with full 
knowledge of the facts were unfortunately destroyed in the 
Viceroy's Yamen at Tientsin and in the Inspector- General 
of Customs' quarters at Peking, in 1900, so that the imme- 
diate causes of that disastrous war will probably never 
be established with complete accuracy. Li Hung-chang 
was aware that twice already Japan had been bought off 
from a war of aggression against China, the first time 
(in 1874) by payment of an indemnity, and again (in 1885) 
by admitting her to a share in the control of Corea, a 
concession which had led directly to the present crisis. 
He reaUsed that even had he been willing to surrender 
China's rights over Corea (which were of no real advantage 
to the Chinese Government) the concession might have 
purchased peace for the time being, but it would certainly 
have led before long to the loss of the Manchurian Provinces ; 
just as certainly, in fact, as the doom of those provinces 
was sealed in 1905, on the day that China acquiesced in the 
terms of the Portsmouth Treaty. Japan's attack on China's 
positions was diplomatically as unjustifiable as the methods 
which she adopted in commencing hostilities. Li Hung- 
chang was fully aware of the preparations that Japan had 
been making for years, and equally aware of the disorganised 
state of his own naval and military resources, but he was 
surrounded by officials who, like the Manchus in 1900, were 
convinced of China's immense superiority, and he was 

170 



TZIJ HSI "EN RETRAITE" 

assured by the Chinese Resident in Corea (Yiian Shih-k'ai) 
that help would be forthcoming from England in the event of 
Japan's commencing hostilities. There was no doubt of the 
British Government's sympathy, which was clearly reflected 
in the attitude and actions of the Consul- General at Seoul. ^ 

Chinese historians have openly accused Li Hung-chang of 
instigating the Court and the Emperor to a war of 
aggression, and the accusation has been generally credited 
abroad. The truth is, that while Li was originally all in 
favour of sending a Chinese force to suppress the Corean 
insurrection, he became opposed to taking any steps that 
might lead to war with Japan, as soon as he realised that 
war was Japan's object ; nevertheless, it is certain that, in 
the last instance, he was persuaded against his better 
judgment by the military enthusiasm of his German 
advisers, and that the sending of the ill-fated " Kow-hsing " 
and her doomed crew to Corea was a step which he 
authorised only after consultation with Peking and in full 
knowledge of the fact that it meant war. No sooner had 
the " Kow-hsing " been sunk, and the first mihtary disasters 
of the campaign reported, than he naturally endeavoured to 
minimise his own share of responsibihty in the matter. 

Foreigners blamed him for making war on Japan, while 
his own countrymen attacked him for betraying China to 
the Japanese, as they subsequently attacked him for selling 
Manchuria to Russia. Tzti Hsi had no great love for the 
Viceroy, although she admired his remarkable intelhgence 
and adroit methods : but when, after the war, he was 
fiercely attacked by several of the Censors, and when she 
found her own name associated with the blame imputed to 
him, she loyally defended him, as was her wont. In 1895, a 
Censor named An Wei-chiin boldly blamed Her Majesty 

1 Sir Walter Hillierj appointed by Yiian Shih-k'ai to be foreign adviser to 
the Grand Council in 1908. When Yiian was compelled to flee from Seoul 
before the advance of the Japanese, he was escorted to Chemulpo by a 
guard of blue-jackets. 

171 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

and the Viceroy for the disasters which had overtaken China. 
He said: — 

" Li Hung-chang has invariably advanced himself because 
of his relations with foreigners, and thus been led to 
conceive an inflated opinion of his own merits. The ' dwarf 
bandits ' ^ having rebelled, he seems to have been afraid that 
the large sums of money, saved from numerous peculations, 
which he had deposited in Japan might be lost ; hence his 
objections to the war. When the Decree declaring war 
reached him, his disappointment was great, and he showed 
his resentment and treachery by supplying the 'dwarf 
bandits ' with supplies and munitions of war. His only 
hope was that the ' dwarfs ' would prove victorious and his 
prophecy would thus be justified ; to this end be curtailed 
the supplies for our troops at the front, diverting the funds 
for the same to his own pockets. He would strongly 
oppose all those who urged a vigorous prosecution of the 
campaign, rejoicing at our defeats and deploring our 
successes. AH the military commanders of the forces 
under his orders humbly comphed with his wishes, and 
invariably ran away at the first sight of the enemy. The 
Censorate has been full of Memorials denouncing the 
treacherous and unpatriotic action of Li Hung-chang, so 
that there is no need for me to say anything further on this 
subject. 

" But I would like to add that Generals Yeh and Wei, 
who have been cashiered and whose arrest has been decreed, 
are at this very moment in hiding at Tientsin ; they have 
made the Viceroy's Yamen itself a place of refuge for 
absconding criminals. This is a matter of common know- 
ledge and undoubtedly true. Then again we have the case 
of Ting Ju-chang, who was ordered to be arrested, but who 
persuaded Li Hung-chang to intercede for him, on the plea 
that he was indispensable to China, being in possession of a 
mysterious secret, an American invention which he alone 
could manipulate, whereby all surrounding objects can 
be rendered invisible. Li Hung-chang actually had the 
audacity to make mention of this ridiculous invention in 

^ i.e. the Japanese (literal translation). 

172 



TZU HSI "EN RETRAITE " 

addressing your Majesty, and it seems to me that if he is to 
be permitted to refer to fables and unclean magic of this 
kind, he is treating the Throne with shameless disrespect. 
Nevertheless, none of your Majesty's Councillors have ever 
dared to oppose him, possibly because they themselves are 
too far gone in senile decay to be able to bear any further 
burden of distress. Their thoughts are far away, wool- 
gathering, or it may be that they too have been smitten 
with fear at the thought of this marvellous invention of 
Li Hung-chang's whereby the landscape may be completely 
befogged. If so, the fact would account for the nebulous 
tendencies of their policy, and for their remaining in 
ignorance of Li Hung-chang's remarkable mendacity." 

" The Imperial Decree whereby Shao Yu-lien and Chang 
Yin-huan have been appointed Plenipotentiaries to discuss 
terms of peace, has not yet been made public, because 
the Grand Council are actually afraid openly to mention the 
word peace, notwithstanding that they failed utterly in 
prosecuting the war and in dignified insistence on our lawful 
rights. Their action appears to me like that of a thief who 
having stolen a bell, shuts his ears while carrying it away, 
bhssfully forgetting that everybody else can hear its tinkling. 
They do not seem to be aware, these Councillors, that 
throughout the whole Empire everybody is already aware of 
the fact that we are suing for peace. Japan having objected 
to Shao on personal grounds, the Grand Council has now 
actually gone so far as to suggest that in his place Li Hung- 
chang's son, Li Ching-fang^ should be appointed. This 
is simply an outrage. Li Ching-fang is nothing more than 
the son-in-law of a Japanese traitor who calls himself Chang 
Pang-chang, a man whom I have already impeached. If 
such unspeakable traitors are permitted to go to Japan, 
nothing will suit the Japanese better, and the negotiations 
must inevitably result in our being badly cheated by these 
pernicious robbers. Japan's strength is purely superficial ; as 
a matter of fact, she is rotten to the core ; if now we are 
debarred from compelling Japan to fight a decisive battle, if 
we meekly accept terms dictated by these low-born dwarfs, 
we are simply in the position of a tributary State, and cannot 

^ At present Chinese Minister in London. 
173 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

be described as equals in any treaty that may be made. In 
other words, our glorious Empire is not only being ruixjed by 
muddlers, but sold by traitors. There is not a single subject 
of the Throne who does not gnash his teeth with rage, and 
long to sink them in the flesh of Li Hung-chang. 

" There are not lacking people who declare that this 
humihating policy of peace has been prompted by the 
Empress Dowager's Chief Eunuch, Li Lien-ying. For 
myself, I do not care to attach undue importance to tea- 
house gossip, but as the Empress Dowager has now handed 
over the reins of Government to your Majesty, how can you 
possibly justify your position before your ancestors and to 
your subjects, if you permit her still to dictate to you, or to 
interfere in the business of the State ? What sort of a 
person is this Li Lien-ying who dares to interfere in Govern- 
ment matters ? If there be any truth whatsoever in the 
rumour, it is assuredly incumbent upon your Majesty to 
inflict severe punishment on this creature, if only because of 
that House-law of your Dynasty which forbids eunuchs to 
concern themselves in State affairs. 

" The truth is that the Throne has been intimidated by 
Li Hung-chang, and has taken liis statements for granted, 
while the Grand Council, chiefly composed of Li's humble 
and obedient servants, shields him from detection and 
punishment, fearing that, if thwarted, he may raise the 
standard of rebelhon. They accordingly do their best to 
justify him in the eyes of your Majesty, failing to realise 
that he has always been a traitor at heart. His is the will, 
if not the power, to rebel. His army is composed of corrupt 
and useless creatures quite devoid of any military knowledge 
or instincts, while his troops are ever on the verge of mutiny, 
because they are always defrauded of their pay. They are 
quite deficient in esprit de corps, and the small foreign forces 
lately organised at Tientsin would more than suffice to over- 
come Li Hung-chang and all his host. The truth of these 
statements can easily be verified. Long ago, if he had had 
the power, he would surely have rebelled ; but as he cannot 
do so, he contents himself vsdth bullying your Majesty and 
disregarding your Imperial Decrees. He totally ignores the 
existence of the Empress Dowager and of your Majesty, a 

174 



TZU HSl "EN RETRAITE " 

fact which may be inferred from his daring to insult your 
inteUigence with his mysterious powers of conferring in- 
visibiHty. 

" T am covered with shame and amazement. My only 
hope is that your Majesty will now display the majesty of 
your wrath, and, after disclosing Li Hung-chang's treason to 
all men, will put this traitor to death. By this means our - 
troops would at once be inspired to valour, and the ' dwarf 
bandits ' would be completely annihilated. At the same 
time, I would ask you to be so good as to behead me also, as 
a fitting punishment for this plain speaking. Your Majesty's 
Imperial ancestors are present in the spirit, and they bear me 
witness. I am quite easy in my mind as to the issue, and I 
therefore lay bare the innermost thoughts of my heart and 
lay them before your Majesty, anxiously begging for your 
Imperial decision." 

In reply to this outspoken document, the Emperor issued 
the following Decree, which bears unmistakable signs of 
Tzii Hsi's hand. The attack upon her favourite, Li Lien- 
ying, was in itself sufficient to bring her to the front, and 
there is no doubt that at the time she was keeping very close 
watch on the Emperor's proceedings, and regularly perusing 
all State papers. 

" Owing to the seriousness of recent events, we have been 
particularly anxious of late to receive and attend to the un- 
prejudiced suggestions of our Censors, and we have abstained 
from punishing any of them, even when they have made 
use of improper expressions in addressing us. With 
the gracious consent of Her Majesty the Empress Dowager, 
we have given particular attention to all projects whereby 
the welfare of our people may be advanced, and all our 
people must by this time be aware of our sincere desire to 
promote good Government. In spite of this the Censor, 
An Wei-chiin, has to-day submitted a Memorial based 
entirely upon rumours, and containing the following 
sentence : — ' How can you possibly justify your position 
before your ancestors and to your subjects if you permit the 

175 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Empress Dowager still to dictate to you, or to interfere in 
the business of the State ? ' 

" Language of this kind reveals depths of audacity 
unspeakable, the unbridled licence of a madman's tongue. 
Were we to fail in inflicting stern punishment in a case of 
this kind, the result might well be to produce estrangement 
between Her Majesty the Empress and ourselves. The 
Censor is, therefore, dismissed from office and sentenced to 
banishment at the post-roads, on the western frontier where 
he shall expiate his guilt and serve as a wholesome warning 
to others. His Memorial is handed back to him with the 
contempt it deserves." 

Tzii Hsi felt deeply the humiUation of her country's defeat 
by the Japanese, a race which, as Chinese historians never 
fail to remind themselves, took its first lessons in civilisation 
and culture from Chinese scholars and artists. Anxious at 
all costs to avoid another invasion of Chihli by the con- 
querors, she approved the Treaty of Peace, especially when 
assured by Li Hung-chang that Russia and her Continental 
allies would not allow Japan to annex any portion of the 
Manchurian Provinces. As above stated, she declined to 
permit Li to be made a scapegoat either by her chagrined 
Manchu kinsmen or by his fierce critics in the south, for she 
recognised the difficulty of his position, and the fact that he 
was not directly responsible for the deplorable condition of 
China's defences. But, woman-like, she had to blame some- 
one for the disasters that had deprived her and her capital of 
festivities whose splendour should have gone down, making 
her name glorious, to all posterity ; and it was not surprising, 
therefore, if she heaped reproaches on the Emperor for 
entering upon so disastrous a war without her full knowledge 
and consent. It was at this time that began the estrange- 
ment which thenceforward gradually grew into the open 
hostility and secret plottings of 1898, the long bitterness 
between Tzii Hsi and her nephew which was to divide the 
Palace into camps of strife, and to cease only with their 

176 



TZU HSI "EN RETRAITE" 

death. From this time also, as they aver who were in close 
touch with the life of the Court, the Emperor's Consort,^ 
Tzti Hsi's niece, became openly alienated from him, and 
their relations grew more severely strained as his reform 
tendencies developed and took shape. From 1894 to 1896 
there was no noticeable change in the attitude of the 
Emperor to his august aunt, nor any diminution of his 
respectful attentions, but the man in the street knew well, 
as he always knows in China, of the rift in the lute, and 
when, in 1896, the Emperor's mother (Tzu's sister) died, it 
was realised that the last bond of amity and possible recon- 
ciliation between Kuang-Hsii and the Empress Dowager 
had been severed. 

^ Now known as the Empress Dowager Lung Yti. 



177 N 



t 



XII 

THE REFORM MOVEMENT OF 1898 

At the beginning of 1898 the Grand Council was com- 
posed of the following officials : Prince Kung, the Em- 
peror's uncle, Prince Li, whose son was married to Jung 
Lu's daughter, Kang Yi,^ Liao Shou-heng and Weng 
T'ung-ho, the Grand Secretary and ex-tutor to the Emperor. 
The Empress Dowager was still leading her life of dignified 
leisure at the Summer Palace, generally in company with 
her two confidential friends, the wife of Jung Lu and her 
adopted daughter, the Princess Imperial. By all accounts 
she was amusing herself with picnics on the K'un Ming 
lake, elaborate theatrical performances and excursions to 
the neighbouring temples and hill shrines, devoting her 
leisure from these pursuits to verse-making and painting, 
but keeping herself fully informed, through Kang Yi and 
Prince Li, of all that took place in the Forbidden City. 
Although leaving the conduct of State affairs to the Em- 
peror, she occasionally visited the city for a day or two, 
while the Emperor, on his side, punctiliously repaired to the 
Summer Palace five or six times a month to pay his respects 

^ Kang Yi was a bigoted reactionary and the arch instigator of the Boxer 
movement at the capital. Young China has carefully preserved one of his 
sayings of that time : " The establishment of schools and colleges has only 
encouraged Chinese ambitions and developed Chinese talent to the danger 
of the Manchu Dynasty : these students should therefore be extenninated 
without delay." 

178 



: 



THE REFORM MOVEMENT OF 1898 

to the Old Buddha. Their relations at this period were 
outwardly friendly. Kuang-Hsii never failed to consult 
Her Majesty before the issue of any important Decree, and 
Tzu Hsi was usually most cordial in her manner towards 
him. She had, it is true, occasion to reprove him more 
than once on account of reports which reached her, through 
the eunuchs, of his violent temper and alleged bad treatment 
of his attendants, reports which were probably instigated 
and exaggerated by Li Lien-ying for his own purposes. 
But Kuang-Hsii, as events subsequently proved, was fully 
aware of the iron hand in the velvet glove. Whenever the 
Empress came to Peking, he obeyed strictly the etiquette 
which required him reverently to kneel at the Palace 
gates to welcome her. When visiting her at the Summer 
Palace, he was not permitted to announce his arrival in 
person, but was obliged to kneel at the inner gate and there 
await the summons of admission from the Chief Eunuch. 
Li, who hated him, delighted in keeping him waiting, 
sometimes as much as half an hour, before informing the 
Old Buddha of his presence. At each of these visits he 
was compelled, like any of the Palace officials, to pay 
his way by large fees to the eunuchs in attendance on 
Her Majesty, and as a matter of fact, these myrmidons 
treated him with considerably less respect than they showed 
to many high Manchu dignitaries. Within the Palace 
precincts, the Son of Heaven was indeed regarded as of 
little account, so that the initiative and determination which 
he displayed during the hundred days of reform in the 
summer of 1898 came as a disturbing surprise to many 
at Court and showed that, given an opportunity, he was 
not wholly unworthy of the Yehonala blood of his mother, 
Tzu Hsi's sister. 

The official who had hitherto exercised most influence 
over the Emperor was Weng T'ung-ho, the Imperial tutor. 
He had only rejoined the Grand Council in November 1894, 
at the critical time when the disastrous opening of the war 

179 n2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

with Japan had brought about the dismissal of the former 
Council ; but as Imperial tutor he had had the entree of the 
Palace ever since the Emperor was five years old. He was 
the leader of the southern party in the capital. A native of 
Kiangsu (the birthplace of all the greatest scholars of China 
during the present Dynasty, and the centre of national 
culture), he hated the narrow conservatism of the Manchus, 
and included in his dislike the Chinese of the Metropolitan 
Provinces, whose politics and point of view are very similar 
to those of the Manchus. The strife between north and 
south really dated from the beginning of Kuang-Hsii's reign. 
The two protagonists on the northern side were Hsii T'ung, 
a well-educated Chinese Bannerman (for all practical pur- 
poses, a Manchu at heart) who had been tutor to the 
Emperor T'ung-Chih ; and Li Hung-tsao, a native of Chihli, 
who had joined the Grand Council at the same time 
as Weng T'ung-ho. The southern party was led by Weng 
T'ung-ho and Pan Tsu-yin, the latter a native of Soochow and 
a most brilHant scholar and essayist. It is necessary to dwell 
on this party strife and its development, because it was the 
first cause of the reform movement of 1898, of the sub- 
sequent resumption of the Regency by Tzu Hsi, and, 
eventually, of the Boxer rising. 

For more than twenty years these four high officials had 
been colleagues in Peking, meeting one another constantly in 
social as well as official circles. Their literary arguments, in 
which the quick-witted southerners generally scored, were 
the talk of the capital. All four men bore good reputations 
for integrity, so that literary graduates entering official fife 
were glad to become their proteges ; but the adherents of the 
southern party were the more numerous. This fact aroused 
the jealousy of Li and Hsii, which grew until it found vent 
publicly at the metropolitan examination for the " Chin 
Shih," or Doctor's, degree in 1899, on which occasion Lijwas 
Grand Examiner and Pan Tsu-yin his chief Associate. P'an, 
whose duty it was to select the best essays, recommended a 

180 



THE REFORM MOVEMENT OF 1898 

native of Kiangsu for the high honour of optimus, but Li 
dedined to endorse his decision, and gave the award to a 
Chihli man. Pan thereupon openly accused Li of prejudice 
and unfairness towards the southerner, and twitted him 
besides on his second-rate scholarship. 

At the time of Russia's seizure of Hi, in 1880, Hsti T'ung 
and Weng T'ung-ho were respectively Presidents of the 
Boards of Ceremonies and Works. At a conference of the 
highest officials, held in the Palace, Weng declared himself 
in favour of war with Russia, but Hsii, after promising to 
support him, left him in the lurch at the last moment, 
causing him discomfiture and loss of face. Hence, bitter 
enmity between them, which increased in intensity when 
they became the leaders of the rival factions. Weng was 
also on bad terms with Jung Lu, who had never forgiven 
him for the part he played in 1880, when Weng denounced 
his impious liaison to the Empress Dowager and brought 
about his dismissal. Jung Lu, as a loyal Manchu, naturally 
favoured the northern faction and his personal feelings 
prompted him in the same direction. 

The enmity between the rival parties increased steadily in 
the early nineties, and when Li and Weng were appointed 
to the Grand Council, in 1894, the Court itself became 
involved in their strife, the Empress siding with the north 
and the Emperor with the south. At that time people were 
wont to speak of the Li faction and the Weng faction, but 
later they came to be known as the Empress Dowager's party, 
irreverently nicknamed the " Old Mother set," and the 
Emperor's party, or " Small Lad's set." Both P'an and Li 
died in 1897. It was after the latter 's death that Hsii T'ung 
began to instigate secret and sinister designs against the 
Emperor, whom he called a Chinese traitor. Hsii T'ung, 
having been tutor to T'ung-Chih, naturally enjoyed con- 
siderable influence with the Empress, but Kuang-Hsii flatly 
refused to have him on the Grand Council. So great was 
his dislike for the old man that he only received him once in 

181 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

audience between 1887 and 1898. Hsti had a valuable ally 
in Kang Yi, who hated all Chinese, southerners and 
northerners alike, and whose influence was used effectively 
to sow dissension between Tzii Hsi and the Emperor. In 
1897, Kang Yi urged the Emperor to give orders that the 
Manchu troops should be efficiently trained and equipped. 
Kuang-Hsii replied : " You persist, it seems, in the exploded 
idea that the Manchu soldiery are good fighting men. I 
tell you that they are absolutely useless." Kang Yi, highly 
incensed, promptly informed the Old Buddha and the Iron- 
capped Princes that the Emperor was the enemy of aU 
Manchus, and was plotting to appoint Chinese to all high 
offices, a statement which naturally created a strong feeling 
against His Majesty at Court. 

Even the foreign policy of the Empire felt the effiscts of 
this rivalry of the opposing parties in the capital. The 
Empress, the Manchus, and the Chinese Bannermen were 
in favour of coming to an understanding with Russia, while 
the Emperor, Weng, and the southern Chinese, inclined to 
a rapprochement with Japan, with a view to imitation of 
that country's successful reforms. Li Hung-chang counted 
for little at the time, the fact being that, owing to his 
alleged responsibility for the war with Japan, his opinions 
were at a discount ; but such influence as he had was used 
against the Emperor's party. Prince Kung, the doyen of 
the Imperial family, to whose ripe judgment the Empress 
herself would yield at times, was the only high Manchu to 
maintain friendly relations with the Chinese party. A fine 
scholar himself, he had always admired Weng T'ung-ho's 
literary gifts ; the war with Japan had been none of his 
seeking, and he had been recalled to the Grand Council, 
at the same time as Weng, after a retirement of fourteen 
years. 

The fact is not generally known that Weng T'ung-ho was 
most anxious at this time to be sent as Special Envoy to the 
coronation of the Czar, for the reason that, reahsing the 

182 



THE REFORM MOVEMENT OF 1898 

Empress Dowager's gro"wdng hostility towards himself, he 
wished to be out of harm's way in the crisis which he felt 
to be impending. By a Decree of 1895, Weng had been 
" excused from further attendance to instruct His Majesty 
at the Palace of Happy Education," so that he could no 
longer influence His Majesty, as heretofore, at all times and 
seasons, and his rivals were thus enabled successfully to 
misrepresent him. 

Prince Kung, the head of the Grand Council, went on 
sick furlough at the beginning of 1898, afflicted with 
incurable lung and heart complaints. The Emperor accom- 
panied the Empress Dowager on three occasions to visit him 
at his residence, and ordered the Imperial physicians to 
attend him. On the 10th day of the 4th Moon he died, and 
the following Decree was issued by Tzii Hsi : — 

" Prince Kung ( Yi Hsin) was my near kinsman ; for many 
years he has assisted in my Privy Councils. When, with 
my colleague, the deceased Empress Tzti An, I assumed the 
Regency at the beginning of the late Emperor's reign, the 
coast provinces were in rebellion and the Empire in danger. 
Prince Kung ably assisted me in restoring order ; and I then 
bestowed upon him high honours commensurate with his 
services. For over thirty years he has supported me with 
unswerving loyalty, although for part of that time he took 
no part in the business of the State. Again T recalled him 
to the Council, where he has ever done yeoman service, 
despite many and great difficulties. Of late his old sickness 
came upon him again, and I therefore went repeatedly with 
the Emperor to visit him, hoping for his fortunate recovery. 
Of a sudden, yesterday, he passed away, and thus, at this 
time of need, a trusty adviser is lost to me. How describe 
my grief? To-day I have visited his residence, there to 
make oblations. In the remembrance of bygone days I 
am completely overcome. I now bestow on him the 
posthumous title of * Loyal,' I command that seasonal 
sacrifices be offered to his spirit in the Temple of the 
Virtuous and Good, and I ordain that the care of his grave 
shaU be a charge on the public funds. Thus I manifest 

183 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

my sincere regard for my worthy kinsman and deep sorrow 
at the loss of my trusted Councillor." 

The above Decree clearly reflected the immediate effect on 
the Empress of party factions and intrigues in the Palace, and 
showed that, though nominally retired from control of the 
Government, she was still, whenever she chose, the autocratic 
ruler of the Empire and ready to assert herself in that 
capacity. The Emperor on this occasion issued a Decree 
on his own account, entirely subordinate to Tzu Hsi's, and 
this in turn was followed by another, which called upon the 
Ministers of State to imitate Prmce Kung's devoted loyalty. 
It concluded with the significant announcement that the 
Prince's valedictory Memorial had advised the Emperor to 
follow the Empress Dowager's advice in all things, to 
organise an efficient army and to purify the administration. 

Prince Kung's death was a serious matter. On the one 
hand the Manchu party lost in him its senior representative, 
an elder whose wise counsel had guided them, and a statesman 
whose influence had been steadily exercised against their 
tendencies towards an anti-Chinese and anti-foreign policy. 
As the last survivor of the sons of Tao-Kuang, he held, vis-d- 
vis the Empress Dowager, a position very different from that 
of the other princes, his contemporaries. It is probable that, 
had he survived, there would have been no Boxer rising. On 
the other hand, the Emperor had always deferred to Prince 
Kung's advice, and it was not until after his death that he 
embarked headlong on the reform schemes of K'ang Yu-wei 
and his associates, many of which the Prince, though no 
bigoted Conservative, would certainly have condemned. To 
Weng T'ung-ho also the loss was serious, as well he knew, 
for Prince Kung had been his best friend. 

It was shortly after the Prince's death that Weng recom- 
mended K'ang Yu-wei to the Emperor's notice, informing 
His Majesty that K'ang's abilities were far superior to his 
own. Weng undoubtedly hoped that K'ang would gain the 

184 



THE REFORM MOVEMENT OF 1898 

Sovereign's favour and use it to assist the southern party 
against the Manchus, and especially against his arch enemies, 
Kang Yi and Hsii T'ung ; but he certainly never anticipated 
that K'ang would go so far as to advise the Emperor to defy 
the Old Buddha herself, and to plot against her sacred person. 
His idea was simply to gain kudos and to strengthen his own 
position and that of his party. The Emperor accepted his 
recommendation of K'ang, and summoned the latter to 
audience on the 28th of the 4th Moon (14th June, 1898). 

Weng told his friend and colleague, Liao Shou-heng, that 
he would await the result of this audience before coming to 
a decision as to his own future movements. If K'ang 
Yu-wei made a good impression, he would remain in office ; 
if not, he would resign. He added that if the usual gifts of 
the Dragon Festival were sent him by the Emperor, he 
would feel that there was no immediate danger in his 
position. All he asked was that he might escape the open 
hostihty of the Empress Dowager, such as had fallen upon 
the Cantonese Vice-President, Chang Yin-huan, whose dis- 
missal was expected at any moment. As it happened, how- 
ever, K'ang Yu-wei and his friends persuaded the Emperor 
to insist on retaining Chang Yin-huan in office, and for the 
next hundred days he became Kuang-Hsii's right-hand man, 
playing his part, foredoomed, while in the " deep seclusion of 
her Palace " the Old Buddha bided her time. 

On the 20th of the 4th Moon, Weng T'ung-ho applied for 
a week's sick leave, a face-saving device which showed that 
he was aware of the impending storm. On the 23rd, His 
Majesty issued the first of his Reform Decrees. He had duly 
conferred on the subject with the Empress at the Summer 
Palace, and had accorded a special audience to Jung Lu. 
Tzu Hsi assured him that she would raise no obstacles to his 
proposed policy, provided that the ancient privileges of the 
Manchus were not infringed ; at the same time, she insisted 
on his getting rid of Weng T'ung-ho without delay, as he 
was instigating an anti-Manchu movement which, if it 

185 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

gained headway, might involve the Dynasty in ruin. Jung 
Lu strongly recommended to His Majesty a notable pro- 
gressive, the son of Ch'en Pao-chen, Governor of Hupei. 
The fact is of interest because of the idea prevalent among 
Europeans, that Jung Lu was ever opposed to reform. Sub- 
sequent events compelled him to turn against the very man 
whom he now recommended, but this was not so much on 
account of a change in his views, as because the policy of the 
reformers had developed on unexpected and dangerous lines. 
The first Reform Decree was as follows : — 

"Of late years many of our Ministers have advocated a 
policy of reform, and we have accordingly issued Decrees 
which provide for the institution of special examinations in 
political economy, for the abolition of useless troops and the 
old form of examination for military degrees, as well as for 
founding Colleges. No decision has been taken in these 
matters without the fullest care, but the country still lacks 
enhghtenment, and views differ as to the course which reform 
should follow. Those who claim to be Conservative patriots 
consider that all the old customs should be upheld and new 
ideas repudiated without compromise. Such querulous 
opinions are worthless. Consider the needs of the times and 
the weakness of our Empire ! If we continue to drift with 
our army untrained, our revenues disorganised, our scholars 
ignorant, and our artisans without technical training, how 
can we possibly hope to hold our own among the nations, or 
to cross the gulf which divides the weak from the strong ? 
It is our beUef that a condition of unrest creates disrespect 
for authority and produces friction, which in turn leads to 
the formation of factions in the State, hostile to each other 
as fire and water. Under such conditions, our Government 
would find itself confronted by the abuses and errors of 
the Sung and Ming Djniasties, to its imminent peril. The 
virtuous rulers of remote antiquity did not cling obstinately 
to existing needs, but were ready to accept change, even as 
one wears grass-cloth garments in summer, and furs in 
winter. 

"We now issue this special Decree so that all our subjects, 
from the Imperial family downwards, may hereafter exert 

186 



THE REFORM MOVEMENT OF 1898 

themselves in the cause of reform. The basis of education 
will continue to rest on the canons of the Sages, but at the 
same time there must be careful investigation of every branch 
of European learning appropriate to existing needs, so that 
there may be an end to empty fallacies and that by zeal 
efficiency may be attained. Parrot-like plagiarisms of 
shallow theories are to be avoided, and catchwords eschewed. 
What we desire to attain is the elimination of useless things 
and the advancement of learning which, while based on 
ancient principles, shall yet move in harmony with the times. 
The Peking University is to be made a model for the Empire, 
and all officials of the rank of Board Secretaries, officers of 
the bodyguard, expectant Magistrates, sons of high officials 
and Manchus of hereditary rank, are to be entitled to enter 
upon a college course in order that their talents may be 
trained to meet the needs of these critical times. No 
procrastination or favouritism will be tolerated, nor any 
disregard of these, the Throne's admonitions." 

On the following day was proclaimed the result of what 
the Emperor fully intended to be the last examination under 
the old classical-essay system. The candidate originally 
selected for the high honour of Optimus was again a Kiangsu 
man, but the Empress herself altered the list and conferred 
the coveted distinction upon a native of Kueichou province, 
to mark her displeasure against the province which had given 
birth to Weng T'ung-ho. At the same time a Decree 
advised members of the Imperial Clan to seek education in 
Europe ; even Princes of the Blood were to be encouraged 
to go abroad and to investigate political conditions. Among 
the Manchus, the sensation created by these Decrees was 
very great ; they felt that, for the first time in history, 
fundamental things were being challenged, the ancient 
bulwarks of the Dynastic privileges in danger. Had not 
Mencius himself said : " We have heard of Chinese ideas 
being employed to convert barbarians, but have never heard 
of China being converted by barbarians." 

On the morning after the issue of the second Decree, 

187 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Weng T'ung-ho, on return from his week's leave, proceeded 
as usual at 4 a.m. to the Summer Palace to attend the 
audience of the Grand Council. He was met by one of the 
Secretaries to the Council who, handing him an Imperial 
Decree, informed him of his dismissal. It was Tzu Hsi's 
first open move on behalf of the Manchu party, and a clear 
admission of tutelage on the part of the Emperor. This 
was the Decree : — 

" A Vermilion Rescript. — We have recently had occasion 
more than once to observe that the Grand Secretary Weng 
T'ung-ho has failed in the proper performance of his duties, 
and that he is the object of very general criticism. He has 
frequently been impeached, and when questioned by our- 
selves at audience, he has allowed his manner to betray his 
feelings, even daring to express approval or displeasure in 
our presence. His conduct has gradually revealed a wild 
ambition and a tendency to usurp our authority : it is no 
longer possible to retain him on the Grand Council. Strictly 
speaking, his conduct merits close scrutiny and punishment, 
but bearing in mind that for years he has served us as our 
tutor, we are averse to inflicting any severe penalty. Weng 
T'ung-ho is ordered forthwith to vacate his post on the 
Council, and to return to his native place. Thus is our 
clemency made manifest." 

Another Decree proved even more plainly that the 
Emperor was completely under Tzti Hsi's orders ; it directed 
that all officials above the second rank should thenceforward 
return thanks to Her Majesty in person upon receiving 
appointments. This was a new departure, for, since the war 
with Japan, she had ceased to hold daily audiences, receiving 
officials only on her birthday and other State occasions. 
Another Decree of the same day transferred Jung Lu to 
Tientsin as Viceroy of Chihli. He and K'ang Yu-wei were 
received in audience next morning. To Jung Lu the 
Emperor gave orders to reorganise the forces in Chihli, 
adding that he looked to him for loyal co-operation in 
the reform movement. The audience to K'ang Yu-wei, 

188 



THE REFORM MOVEMENT OF 1898 

first of many similar interviews (but the only one recorded 
in the official Gazette), lasted several hours. K'ang deeply 
disliked and feared Tzu Hsi, and from the outset he did his 
best to prejudice the Emperor against her. He reiterated 
his opinion that her sympathy for reform was merely a feint, 
and he roundly denounced her wanton extravagance and 
dissipated life at the Summer Palace. He described the 
unpopularity of the Manchu rule in the south as chiefly due 
to the people's contempt for Her Majesty, and compared 
her private life to that of the notorious Empress Wu of the 
T'ang Dynasty. He advised Kuang-Hsii to relegate her 
permanently to retirement, she being the chief obstacle 
to reform. The Emperor fell speedily and completely under 
K'ang's influence, and none of his subsequent Edicts was 
issued without K'ang's assistance. In the light of later 
knowledge, and of almost universal Chinese opinion on this 
subject, it is difficult to acquit K'ang Yu-wei of personal and 
interested motives, of a desire to wield power in the State as 
the result of his influence over the Emperor, whose emotional 
pliability he made to serve his own ends. Looked at in this 
light, his denunciations of the Empress Dowager and Jung 
Lu were evidently less the outcome of patriotic indignation 
than of his recognition of the fact that, so long as Tzu Hsi 
remained in power, his ambitions could never be achieved, 
nor his own position secured. 



189 



XIII 

THE HUNDRED DAYS OF REFORM 

Immediately following upon K'ang Yu-wei's first audience, 
reform Decrees followed one another in rapid succession. 
The old examination system which had been in force, 
with one brief intermission (in K'ang-Hsi's reign), since the 
days of the Sung Dynasty, was definitely abolished. For the 
future, said the Emperor, papers on practical subjects were 
to be set at the public examinations, and while the classics 
were to remain as a basis for the literary curriculum, 
candidates for the public service would be expected to 
display a knowledge of the history of other countries and of 
contemporary politics. It was at this juncture that the 
President of the Board of Rites, Hsli Ying-k'uei (who, though 
a Cantonese, was a stalwart Conservative), was denounced by 
the Censors Sung Po-lu and Yang Shen-hsiu for obstruct- 
ing the decreed reforms. They begged the Emperor to 
" display his divine wrath by immediately reducing Hsii to 
the rank of a fourth class official as a warning to other 
offenders." " We have noted," they said, " Your Majesty's 
zeal in the cause of reform and your gracious desire to 
promote improved education and friendly relations with 
foreign Powers. The Board of Rites is in charge of all the 
colleges in the Empire and the Tsungli Yamen directs 
our policy. Hsii Ying-k'uei, President of the Board of 
Rites and a Minister of the Tsungli Yamen, is a man of 
second-rate ability, arrogant, ignorant, and hopelessly 

190 



THE HUNDRED DAYS OF REFORM 

obstinate. Your Majesty, being deeply conscious of the 
vital need for permanent and radical reform, and anxious to 
encourage men of talent, has instituted a special examination 
in political economy, but Hsii Ying-ku'ei has dared to cast 
disparagement on your Majesty's orders and has openly 
stated that such an examination is a useless innovation. It 
is his intention to allow as few candidates as possible to pass 
this examination so as to render it unpopular. He is 
similarly opposing every one of your Majesty's proposed 
reforms. He vihfies western learning in conversation with 
his proteges, and is the sworn foe of all progressive scholars. 
Your Majesty's chief complaint is that such scholars are too 
few in number, but Hsli Ying-ku'ei's chief hope is to 
suppress the few there are." 

" In the Tsungh Yamen a single phrase wrongly expressed 
may well precipitate a war ; so important are the duties 
there to be performed that no one unacquainted with foreign 
aiFairs, and the ways of those who seek to injure us, can 
possibly render effective service to the State. Hsii Ying-ku'ei 
is far from being a distinguished Chinese scholar ; neverthe- 
less he despises European learning. His boundless conceit 
is a menace to our country's interests and dignity. It seems 
to us a monstrous thing that a man of this stamp should be 
employed at the Tsungli Yamen, and that his removal from 
the Board would be of incalculable benefit. He deserves to 
be removed from office for blocking reform and impeding 
the execution of your Majesty's plans, if only as a warning 
to reactionary officials, who are all a danger to their country. 
If your Majesty will reduce him to the fourth official rank 
we shall escape the ridicule of foreign nations, and the cause 
of reform will be greatly advanced." 

On receipt of the above Memorial, Kuang-Hsii com- 
manded Hsii Ying-ku'ei to submit a personal explanation of 
his conduct. The following is the text of his Memorial in 
reply, which shows K'ang Yu-wei in a light less favourable 
than that in which his admirers represented him : — 

191 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" I feel that because of my uprightness I have made 
myself enemies, and I am grateful to your Majesty for thus 
allowing me to defend myself. The Censors accuse me of 
thinking disparagingly of your Majesty's orders. How can 
they know what is in my mind ? Their accusations are 
evidently worthless. Li Hung-chang and myself were 
strongly in favour of the original scheme for instituting an 
examination for political economy. I observed, however, 
that great care must be exercised in carrying out this new 
idea, and that the selection for office of too many* successful 
candidates might endanger the main object of the reform. 
While in no way desiring to make the standard prohibitively 
high, I was determined not to court popularity by consenting 
to making the path of these candidates too easy. How can 
these Censors know that we are opposed to the proposals 
of reform before our Memorials have seen the light ? Their 
remarks are based on pure conjecture and prejudice. More- 
over, many of your Majesty's Decrees in no way concern 
the Board of Rites, e.g., the contemplated reform of military 
examinations and the abolition of sinecures in the army. 
Again, the Memorialists accuse me of vilifying western 
learning in conversation with my proteges, and of being the 
sworn foe of progressive scholars. As a native of Canton 
province, I have had no Httle experience of foreign affairs, 
and have constantly had occasion to recommend for employ- 
ment men well versed in the arts and sciences of the west ; 
for instance, Hua T'ing-chun, for his knowledge of marks- 
manship, and Fang Yao for his skill in the manufacture of 
guns. With all my proteges my constant object has been to 
encourage them to acquire a thorough knowledge of current 
politics and to eschew forms of learning that are orna- 
mental and useless. 

"When the Censors accuse me of being the foe of 
scholars, they evidently refer to K'ang Yu-wei. As a native 
of my province K'ang was well known to me in his youth 
as a worthless fellow. After taking his degree and returning 
to his home, he was for ever inciting people to Utigation ; 
his reputation was evil. On coming to Peking he made 
friends with the Censors and intrigued with certain persons 
in high office, making great capital of his alleged knowledge 

192 



THE HUNDRED DAYS OF REFORM 

of European science, in the hope of obtaining a lucrative 
post. On three occasions he tried to secure an interview 
with me, but I knew the man too well, and declined to 
receive him. He then founded a society at the Canton 
Guild-house, enrolling over two hundred members ; but I 
caused it to be suppressed, fearing that disturbances would 
come of it. Hence K'ang's hatred of me. When your 
Majesty summoned him to audience, he boasted to his fellow- 
provincials that high promotion was in store for him ; he was 
keenly disappointed at getting nothing higher than a clerk- 
ship in the Tsungh Yamen. He has been spreading lies 
about me and inciting the Censors to attack me in the hope 
of ousting me, one of his chiefs, from my position. That is 
quite in keeping with his character. The Grand Secretary, 
Li Hung-tsao, used to say that the flaunting of western 
knowledge was used only too often by persons who had no 
real education therein ; persons who hoodwinked the public 
and were accepted at their own valuation. K'ang Yu-wei 
has got hold of many wild and fantastic ideas, and is trying 
to make a reputation for himself by plagiarising hackneyed 
articles from European newspapers and disparaging our 
country's ancient institutions. His proposals are utterly 
unpractical, and liis motives will not bear investigation. If 
he is retained at the Tsungli Yamen, instead of being 
cashiered and sent back to Canton, as he deserves, he will 
inevitably bring about complications by the betrayal of State 
secrets. If he remains in Peking he and his associates will 
assuredly plot together for evil, their only object being to 
promote party strife and to foment intrigues. 

" The danger with which his revolutionary tendencies 
threaten the State is indeed a most serious matter, and the 
Censors are, for once, quite right in describing me as his 
sworn foe. 

" The Censors also accuse rne of despising European 
learning. At audience with your Majesty I have frequently 
laid stress on the importance of opening mines, building 
ships and providing munitions of war ; it is therefore known 
to your Majesty how baseless is this charge. But since the 
negotiations which followed the seizure of Kiaochao Bay, 
the transaction of the Tsungli Yamen's business has become 

193 o 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

increasingly difficult, nor will our position be improved by 
this futile wrangling. I would, therefore, humbly ask your 
Majesty to relieve me of my duties at the Yamen, so that 
calumny may be hushed and that I may cease to occupy a 
position for which I am eminently unfitted. This is my 
humble prayer." 

The Emperor was greatly incensed at Hsu Ying-ku'ei's 
outspoken denunciation of K'ang Yu-wei, but could not as 
yet summon up courage to offend the Empress Dowager by 
dismissing from office one who enjoyed her favour and 
protection. Tzti Hsi perused both Memorials and was 
secretly impressed by Hsti's warning in regard to the revolu- 
tionary tendencies of the reformers. From that day, though 
openly unopposed to reform, she became suspicious of 
K'ang's influence over the Emperor, but preferred to bide 
her time, never doubting that, at a word from her, Kuang- 
Hsii would dismiss him. She gave a special audience to 
Wang Wen-shao, who had come from Tientsin after hand- 
ing over the Chihli Viceroyalty to Jung Lu. Wang 
stoutly supported Hsii Ying-ku'ei's attitude of caution in 
regard to several of the Emperor's proposed measures. 
Following upon this audience, the Emperor issued a Decree 
permitting Hsii to retain his posts, but warning him to show 
more energy in future both at the Board of Rites and at the 
Tsungli Yamen. Hsii regarded this as a decided triumph, 
due to Tzii Hsi's protection, and became more than ever 
opposed to innovations ; this attitude was strengthened 
when Huai Ta Pu, his Manchu colleague at the Board of 
Rites and a first cousin of Tzti Hsi, came out as a strong 
supporter of the ultra-Conservatives. 

The Emperor's next Decree provided for the reorganisa- 
tion of the effete Manchu troops of the Metropolitan 
Province and for the founding of colleges and high schools 
in the provinces, to correspond to the Peking University. 

A reactionary Memorial by the Censor Wen T'i ^ charged 

^ In 190 1, this official begged Tzu Hsi^ just before her departure from 

194 



THE HUNDRED DAYS OF REFORM 

his colleagues Sung Po-lu and Yang Shen-hsiu with making 
their personal jealousy of Hsii Ying-ku'ei an excuse for 
deluding the Emperor and setting him at variance with the 
Empress Dowager. This greatly angered His Majesty, who 
promptly had the offender dismissed from the Censorate 
for stirring up that very party strife which his Memorial 
professed to denounce. Wen T'i, thus rebuked, induced 
Huai Ta Pu to go out to the Summer Palace and 
endeavour to enlist the Old Buddha's sympathy in his behalf 
She, however, declined to move in the matter, having at the 
moment no specific ground of complaint against the Emperor 
and preferring to give the Progressives all the rope they 
wanted ; but she caused Yii Lu, one of her old proteges, to 
be appointed to the Grand Council, and this official kept 
her regularly informed of everything that occurred in 
Peking. He belonged to the Kang Yi faction of extremists 
and disapproved of reform with all the dogged stupidity of 
his class. Later, in 1900, as Viceroy of Chihli, he rendered 
no little assistance to Kang Yi's schemes for massacring all 
foreigners, and was a noted leader of the Boxer movement. 
With three reactionaries on the Council of the stamp of 
Kang Yi, Wang Wen-shao and Yii Lu, there was small 
chance of any genuine opportunity or honest purpose of 
reform, whatever the Emperor might choose to decree, but 
before the Conservatives could assume the offensive, they 
had to win over Tzu Hsi definitely and openly to their side, 
and with her Jung Lu. 

At about this time Kuang-Hsii reprimanded another 
Censor for a trifling error in caligraphy, the incorrect writing 
of a character.^ Nevertheless, a week later, a Decree was 
issued, clearly showing the influence of K'ang Yu-wei, in 
which it was ordered that caligraphy should no longer form 

K'ai-Feng fu for Peking, not to return thither, on the ground that her Palace 
had been polluted by the presence of the foreign barbarians. 

^ The Emperor prided himself on being a great stickler in such matters, 
and many of the younger officials feared him on account of his quick temper 
and martinet manner in dealing with them. 

195 o2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

a special subject at^the public examinations. " In certain 
branches of the public service neat handwriting was no 
doubt of great value, but it would in future be made the 
subject of special examinations for the appointment of 
copyists." 

On the 8th day of the 6th Moon, a Decree ordered 
arrangements to be made for the publication of official 
Gazettes all over the Empire, and K'ang Yu-wei was placed 
in charge of the Head Office at Shanghai. These Gazettes 
were to be official newspapers, and their object was the 
extension of general knowledge. They were to receive 
Government subsidies ; copies were to be regularly submitted 
for the Emperor's perusal ; opinions were to be freely 
expressed, and all abuses fearlessly exposed. K'ang Yu-wei 
was directed to draw up Press regulations in this sense. 

On the 23rd of the 6th Moon, another vigorous Decree 
exhorted the official class to turn its attention seriously to 
reforms. Herein the Emperor declared that the procras- 
tination hitherto displayed was most disheartening. " Stag- 
nation," said the Edict, "is the sign of grave internal 
sickness ; hopeless abuses are bred from this palsied indiffer- 
ence. An earnest reformer like Ch'en Pao-chen, the 
Governor of Hupei, becomes a target for the violent abuse 
of officials and gentry. Henceforward I would have you 
all sympathise with my anxiety and work earnestly together, 
so that we may profit by our past reverses and provide for 
a brighter future." 

Another Decree ordered the institution of naval colleges 
as a step preliminary to the reconstruction of China's fleet. 
Railway and mining bureaus were established in Peking, and 
the Cantonese reformer, Liang Ch'i-Ch'ao, was given charge 
of a Translation Department, to publish standard foreign 
works on political economy and natural science, a grant 
of one thousand taels per mensem being allowed to cover 
his expenses. 

But an innovation more startling than all these, broke upon 

196 



THE HUNDRED DAYS OF REFORM 

the upholders of the old regime in a Decree issued in response 
to a Memorial by Jung Lu, who was all in favour of reform 
in military matters. It was therein announced that the 
Emperor would escort the Empress Dowager by train to 
Tientsin on the 5th day of the 9th Moon, and there hold a 
review of the troops. The Conservatives were aghast at the 
idea of their Majesties travelling by train, but Tzti Hsi, who 
had always enjoyed riding on the miniature railway in the 
Winter Palace, was delighted at the prospect of so novel an 
excursion. But if Manchu propriety was shocked at this 
proposal, a still heavier blow was dealt it by the next Decree, 
which abolished a number of obsolete and useless Govern- 
ment offices and sinecures, fat jobs which, for generations, 
had maintained thousands of idlers in the enjoyment of 
lucrative squeezes, a burden on the State. 

This Decree was loudly denounced as contrary to the 
traditions of the Manchu Dynasty, and from all sides came 
urgent appeals to the Old Buddha to protect the privileges of 
the ruling class, and to order its cancellation. Yet another 
bolt fell two days later, when all the high officials of the 
Board of Rites, including Hsii Ying-ku'ei and the Empress 
Dowager's kinsman, Huai Ta Pu, were summarily cashiered 
for having suppressed a Memorial by the Secretary, Wang 
Chao. In this document it was suggested that the Emperor, 
in company with the Empress Dowager, should travel abroad, 
beginning with Japan and concluding with a tour in Europe. 
Realising that " the craft of Demetrius was in danger," nearly 
all the Conservatives holding high office proceeded in a body 
to the Summer Palace and told the Empress Dowager that 
the only hope of saving the country lay in her resumption of 
the supreme power. The Old Buddha bade them wait — the 
sands were running out, but she was not yet ready to move. 

K'ang Yu-wei, realising that there was danger ahead, took 
advantage of what he mistook for indecision on the part of 
Tzu Hsi to induce the Emperor to rebel against her 
authority. Once more he assured Kuang-Hsli that her 

197 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

professed sympathy for reform was all a sham, and that, on 
the contrary, it was she herself who was the chief obstacle 
to China's awakening, her influence being really the prime 
factor in the country's corruption and lethargy. Why should 
she be permitted to waste millions of Government funds 
yearly in the upkeep of her lavish establishment at the 
Summer Palace ? He advised the Emperor by a coup de 
main to surround her residence, seize her person, and confine 
her for the rest of her days on a certain small island in the 
Winter Palace lake. Thereafter he should issue a Decree 
recounting her many misdeeds and proclaiming his intention 
never again to permit her to have any part in the Govern- 
ment. This conversation was held in a private apartment of 
the Palace, but there is every reason to believe that it was 
reported to Tzii Hsi by one of the eunuch spies employed by 
Li Lien-ying for that purpose. The Emperor foolishly 
allowed himself to be led into approval of this plot, but 
decided to await the Court's proposed trip to Tientsin before 
putting it into execution. He knew that to ensure success 
for the scheme he must be able to command the services of 
the troops, and he realised that so long as Jung Lu was in 
command of the foreign-drilled forces of Chihli, he would 
never consent to their lifting a^ finger against his life-long 
benefactress. Herein, in the Emperor's opinion, lay the 
main obstacle that confronted him. The real danger, that 
lay in Tsu Hsi's enormous personal influence and fertility 
of resource, he appears to have under-rated, mistaking her 
inaction for indecision. 

For the moment he continued to issue new Edicts, one 
ordering the making of macadamised roads in Peking, 
another the enrolment of militia for purposes of national 
defence, while a third authorised Manchus to leave Peking, 
should they so wish, to earn their living in the provinces. 
On the 27th of the 7th Moon, appeared the last of his 
important Reform Decrees — a document pathetic in the 
light of subsequent events. 

198 



\; 



THE HUNDRED DAYS OF REFORM 

" In promoting reforms, we have adopted certain 
European methods, because, while China and Europe are 
both ahke in holding that the first object of good govern- 
ment should be the welfare of the people, Europe has 
travelled further on this road than we have, so that, by the 
introduction of European methods, we simply make good 
China's deficiencies. But our Statesmen and scholars are so 
ignorant of what lies beyond our borders that they look 
upon Europe as possessing no civilisation. They are all 
unaware of those numerous branches of western knowledge 
whose object it is to enlighten the minds and increase the 
material prosperity of the people. Physical well-being and 
increased longevity of the race are thereby secured for the 
masses. 

"Is it possible that I, the Emperor, am to be 
regarded as a mere follower after new and strange ideas 
because of my thirst for reform ? My love for the people, 
my children, springs from the feeling that God has 
confided them to me and that to my care they have been 
given in trust by my illustrious Ancestors. I shall never 
feel that my duty as Sovereign is fulfilled until I have 
raised them all to a condition of peaceful prosperity. 
Moreover, do not the foreign Powers surround our Empire, 
committing frequent acts of aggression? Unless we learn 
and adopt the sources of their strength, our plight cannot be 
remedied. The cause of my anxiety is not ftilly appreciated 
by my people, because the reactionary element deliberately 
misrepresents my objects, spreading the while baseless 
rumours so as to disturb the minds of men. AVhen I 
reflect how deep is the ignorance of the masses of the 
dwellers in the innermost parts of the Empire on the subject 
of my proposed reforms, my heart is filled with care and 
grief Therefore do I hereby now proclaim my intentions, 
so that the whole Empire may know and believe that their 
Sovereign is to be trusted and that the people may 
co-operate with me in working for reform and the 
strengthening of our country. This is my earnest hope. I 
command that the whole of my Reform Decrees be printed 
on Yellow paper and distributed for the information of all 
men. The District Magistrates are henceforward privileged 

199 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

to submit Memorials to me through the Provincial Viceroys, 
so that I may learn the real needs of the people. Let this 
Decree be exhibited in the front hall of every public office 
in the Empire so that all men may see it." 

But the sands had run out. Tzu Hsi now emerged from 
" the profound seclusion of her Palace " and Kuang-Hsii's 
little hour was over. 



200 



XIV 

THE COUP BET AT OF 1898 

In August 1898 — at the end of the 7th Moon — the 
position of affairs in the Palace (known only to a few) was 
that the Empress Dowager had been won over to the 
reactionary party ; she was postponing a decisive step, 
however, until she and the Emperor made their proposed 
visit to Tientsin in the 9th Moon. It was her intention 
there to confer with Jung Lu before resuming the Regency, 
because of the unmistakable hostility towards her then pre- 
vailing in the southern provinces, which she wished to allay, 
as far as possible, by avoiding any overt measures of usurpation 
until her preparations were made. On the 1st of the 8th 
Moon, the Emperor, who was then in residence at the 
Summer Palace, received in audience Ylian Shih-k'ai, the 
Judicial Commissioner of Chihli, and discussed with him at 
great length the political needs of the Empire. Yiian (then 
in his fortieth year) had owed his rapid advancement to the 
protection of the great Viceroy Li Hung-chang ; nevertheless, 
among his rivals and enemies there were many who attributed 
the disastrous war with Japan in 1 894 to his arbitrary conduct 
of affairs as Imperial Resident in Corea. There is no doubt 
that his reports and advice on the situation at Seoul pre- 
cipitated, if they did not cause, the crisis, leading the 
Chinese Government to despatch troops into the country 
in the face of Japan's desire and readiness for war, and 
thus to the extinction of China's sovereignty in the 
Hermit Kingdom ; but the fact had not impaired Yiian's- 

201 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

personal prestige or his influence at Court. As a 
result of this audience the Emperor was completely won 
over by Yiian's professed interest in the cause of reform, 
and was convinced that in him he had secured a powerful 
supporter. His Majesty had already realised that he must 
now reckon with the Old Buddha's uncompromising opposi- 
tion ; quite recently she had severely rebuked him for even 
noticing K'ang Yu-wei's suggestion that he should act more 
on his own authority. Jung Lu, he knew, would always 
loyally support his Imperial mistress ; and there was not one 
prominent M?nchu in the Empire, and, as far as Peking was 
concerned, hardly a Chinese, who would dare to oppose the 
Old Buddha, if once she declared herself actively on the side 
of reaction. The only two high officials in Peking on 
whom he could confidently reckon for sympathy and 
support were the Cantonese Chang Yin-huan, and Li 
Tuan-fen, a native of Kueichou. But if he could obtain 
control of the Northern foreign-drilled army, the reactionary 
party might yet be overthrown. To secure this end it 
was essential that Jung Lu, the Governor- General of 
Chihli and Commander-in-Chief of the foreign-drilled 
forces, should be put out of the way, and this before the 
Empress could be warned of the plot. The Emperor there- 
fore proposed to have Jung Lu put to death in his Yamen at 
Tientsin, and then swiftly to bring a force of 10,000 of his 
disciplined troops to the capital, who would confine the 
Empress Dowager to the Summer Palace. At the same 
time the most prominent reactionaries in Peking, i.e., Kang 
Yi, Yii Lu, Huai T'a Pu and Hsii Ying-ku'ei were to be 
seized at their residences and hurried off to the prison of the 
Board of Punishments. This was the scheme suggested by 
K'ang Yu-wei, the Censor Yang Shen-hsiu, and the secretaries 
of the Grand Council, T'an Ssu-t'ung, Lin-Hsii, Yang Jui, 
and Liu Kuang-ti. At this first audience Yiian Shih-k'ai 
was informed of the Emperor's determination to maintain 
and enforce his reform policy, and was asked whether he 

202 



THE COUP UETAT OF 1898 

would be loyal to his sovereign if placed in command of a 
large force of troops. " Your servant will endeavour to 
recompense the Imperial favour," he replied, " even though 
his merit be only as a drop of water in the ocean or a grain of 
sand in the desert ; he will faithfully perform the service of a 
dog or a horse while there remains breath in his body." 

Completely reassured by Yiian's words and earnest manner 
and his apparently genuine zeal for reform, the Emperor 
straightway issued the following Decree : — 

" At the present time army reform is of all things most 
essential, and the judicial commissioner of Chihli, Yiian 
Shih-k'ai, is an energetic administrator and thoroughly 
earnest in the matter of training our forces. We therefore 
accord him the rank of Expectant Vice-President of a Board 
and place him in special charge of the business of army 
reform. He is to memorialise from time to time regarding 
any measures which he may desire to introduce. Under the 
present conditions of our Empire it is of the first importance 
that our defences be strengthened, and it behoves Yiian 
Shih-k'ai therefore to display alUpossible energy and zeal in 
the training of our troops, so that an efficient army may 
be organised, and the Throne's determination to secure 
homogeneous forces be loyally supported." 

At this first audience there had been no mention of 
the proposed removal of Jung Lu. Scarcely had Yiian left 
the Jen Shou (Benevolent Old Age) Palace Hall, than the 
Empress Dowager summoned him to her own apartments, 
and closely questioned him as to what the Emperor had said. 
" By all means let the army be reformed," said the Old 
Buddha ; " the Decree is sensible enough, but His Majesty 
is in too great a hurry, and I suspect him of cherishing some 
deep design. You will await a further audience with him, 
and then receive my instructions." 

The Empress then sent for the Emperor, and informed 
him that he must have K'ang Yu-wei placed under arrest 
for speaking disrespectfully of her private life and morals. 

203 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

She refrained from informing him that she knew of his 
design to deprive her of power, and she was so far unaware 
of the extent of the plot against herself and Jung Lu. She 
reproached him, however, in general terms for his evident 
and increasing lack of filial duty towards herself. The 
Emperor meekly promised to comply with her wishes as to 
K'ang Yu-wei's arrest, but late that same evening, while the 
Empress Dowager was entertaining herself at a water picnic 
on the K'un Ming Lake, he despatched his confidential 
eunuch. Sung Yu-lien, into Peking with the following 
Decree, drafted in His Majesty's own unformed and childish 
handwriting : — 

" On a previous occasion we commanded the Secretary of 
the Board of Works, K'ang Yu-wei, to take charge of the 
Government Gazette Bureau at Shanghai. We learn with 
astonishment that he has not yet left Peking. We are well 
aware of the crisis through which the Empire is passing, and 
have been anxious on this account to obtain the services of 
men well versed in political economy, with whom to discuss 
improved methods of government. We granted one audience 
to K'ang Yu-wei {sic : as a matter of fact K'ang was received 
by His Majesty on several occasions) because of his special 
knowledge, and we appointed him to take charge of the 
Government Gazette Bureau for the reason that newspapers 
are one of the most important factors in national education 
and progress. His duties are evidently of no light responsi- 
bility, and funds having been specially raised for this enter- 
prise, we command him now to betake himself with all 
despatch to Shanghai ; he shall on no account procrastinate 
any longer." 

K'ang Yu-wei received the Decree, realised its significance, 
and left Peking by the first train next morning, arriving 
safely at Tongku, where he boarded a coasting steamer for 
Shanghai.^ When the Empress heard of his departure she 

1 K'ang's subsequent escape under British protection^ in which one of the 
writers was instrumental^ is graphically described in despatch No. 401 of 
Blue Book No. 1 of 1899- 

204 



THE COUP HETAT OF 1898 

was furious, and telegraphed to Jung Lu to arrest K'ang, but 
for some unexplained reason (the instructions reached him 
before K'ang could have arrived at Tientsin) Jung Lu took 
no steps to do so. At this time he was unaware of the plot 
against his life, or he would hardly have shown such mag- 
nanimity. K'ang Yu-wei never gave him any credit for it 
and has always denounced Jung Lu as second only in villainy 
to the Empress Dowager, an arch enemy of reform and 
reformers. As a matter of fact Jung Lu was one of the high 
officials who originally recommended K'ang to the notice of 
the Emperor, and till the day of his death he always alluded 
to himself jocularly as one of the K'ang Tang, or K'ang Yu- 
wei party, to the great amusement of the Old Buddha, 
who would jokingly ask him what news he had of his friend 
K'ang, the traitor and rebel. That morning, the 2nd of 
the Moon, audience was given to the reformer Lin Hsii and 
to Yiian Shih-k'ai, who again assured the Emperor of his 
complete devotion. His Majesty then left for the Forbidden 
City, intending to carry out his plans against the Empress 
from there rather than from the Summer Palace, where 
nearly every eunuch was a spy in her service. 

]t is evident that, so far, the Emperor by no means 
despaired of his chances of success, as two Decrees 
were issued next morning, one ordering the teaching 
of European languages in the public schools, and the 
other requiring purer administration on the part of district 
magistrates. 

On the morning of the 5th, Yiian Shih-k'ai had a final 
audience, before leaving for Tientsin. His Majesty received 
him in the Palace of Heavenly Purity (Ch'ien Ch'ing Kung) 
of the Forbidden City. Every precaution was taken to 
prevent the conversation being overheard. Seated for the 
last time on the great lacquered Dragon Throne, so soon to 
be reoccupied by the Empress Dowager, in the gloomy 
throne room which the morning light could scarcely 
penetrate, His Majesty told Yiian Shih-k'ai the details of 

205 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

the commission with which he had decided to entrust him. 
He was to put Jung Lu to death and then, returning imme- 
diately to the capital with the troops under his command, to 
seize and imprison the Empress Dowager. The Emperor 
gave him a small arrow, the symbol of his authority to carry 
out the Imperial orders, and bade him proceed with all 
haste to Tientsin, there to arrest Jung Lu in his Yamen and 
see to his instant decapitation. Kuang Hsii also handed 
him a Decree whereby, upon completion of his mission, 
he was appointed Viceroy of Chihli ad interim, and ordered 
to Peking for further audience. 

Yiian promised faithful obedience, and, without speaking 
to anyone, left Peking by the first train. Meantime the 
Old Buddha was due to come in from the I-ho Yiian to the 
Winter Palace that morning at 8 o'clock, to perform 
sacrifice at the altar to the God of Silkworms, and the 
Emperor dutifully repaired to the Ying Hsiu Gate of the 
Western Park, where the Lake Palace is situated, to 
receive Her Majesty as she entered the precincts. 

Yiian reached Tientsin before noon, and proceeded at 
once to Jung Lu's Yamen. He asked Jung Lu whether he 
regarded him as a faithful blood brother. (The two men 
had taken the oath of brotherhood several years before.) 
" Of course I do," replied the Viceroy. " You well may, for 
the Emperor has sent me to kill you, and instead, I now 
betray his scheme, because of my loyalty to the Empress 
Dowager and of my affection for you." Jung Lu, 
apparently unaffected by the message, merely expressed 
surprise that the Old Buddha could have been kept in 
ignorance of all these things, and added that he would go 
at once to the capital and see the Empress Dowager that 
same evening, Yiian handed him the Emperor's Decree, 
and Jung Lu, travelling by special train, reached Peking 
soon after 5 p.m. 

He went directly to the Lake Palace, and entered the 
Empress's residence, boldly disregarding the strict etiquette 

206 



THE COUP D'ETAT OF 1898 

which forbids any provincial official from visiting the 
capital v^^ithout a special summons by Edict, and the still 
stricter rules that guard the entree of the Palace. Un- 
ushered he entered the Empress's presence, and kowtowing 
thrice, exclaimed, " Sanctuary, your Majesty ! " " What 
sanctuary do you require in the Forbidden precincts, where 
no harm can come to you, and where you have no right to 
be ? " replied the Old Buddha. Jung Lu proceeded to lay 
before her all the details of the plot. Grasping the situation 
and rising immediately to its necessities with the courage 
and masculine intelligence that enabled her to overcome all 
obstacles, she directed hini to send word secretly to the 
leaders of the Conservative party, summoning them to 
immediate audience in the Palace by the Lake. (The 
Emperor was still in the Forbidden City.) In less than two 
hours the whole of the Grand Council, several of the Manchu 
princes and nobles (Prince Ch'ing, with his usual fine " flair " 
for a crisis, had applied for sick leave and was therefore 
absent) and the high officials of the Boards, including the 
two Ministers whom the Emperor had cashiered (Hsii Ying- 
ku'ei and Huai Ta Pu) were assembled in the presence of the 
Empress. On their knees, the assembled officials besought 
her to resume the reins of government and to save their 
ancient Empire from the evils of a barbarian civilisation. It 
was speedily arranged that the guards in the Forbidden City 
should be replaced by men from Jung Lu's own corps, and 
that, in the meantime, he should return to his post in 
Tientsin and await further orders. The conference broke 
up at about midnight. The Emperor was due to enter the 
Chung Ho Hall of the Palace at 5.30 the next morning to 
peruse the litany drawn up by the Board of Rites, which he 
was to recite next day at the autumnal sacrifice to the 
Tutelary Deities. After leaving that hall, he was seized by 
the guards and eunuchs, conveyed to the Palace on the small 
island in the middle of the lake (the " Ocean Terrace ") and 
informed that the Empress Dowager would visit him later. 

207 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

The following Decree was thereupon issued by the Empress 
Dowager in the Emperor's name : — 

"The nation is now passing through a crisis, and wise 
guidance is needed in all branches of the public service. 
We ourselves have laboured diligently, night and day, to 
perform Our innumerable duties, but in spite of all Our 
anxious energy and care We are in constant fear lest delay 
should be the undoing of the country. We now respect- 
fully recall the fact that Her Imperial Majesty the Empress 
Dowager has on two occasions since the beginning of the 
reign of H. M. T'ung-Chih, performed the functions of 
Regent, and that in her administrations of the Government 
she displayed complete and admirable qualities of perfection 
which enabled her successfully to cope with every difficulty 
that arose. Recollecting the serious burden of the 
responsibility We owe to Our ancestors and to the nation. 
We have repeatedly besought Her Majesty to condescend 
once more to administer the Government. Now she has 
graciously honoured Us by granting Our prayer, a blessing 
indeed for all Our subjects. From this day forth Her 
Majesty will transact the business of Government in the 
side hall of the Palace, and on the day after to-morrow We 
ourselves at the head of Our Princes and Ministers shall 
perform obeisance before Her in the Hall of Diligent 
Government. The Yamens concerned shall respectfully 
make the arrangements necessary for this ceremonial. The 
woids of the Emperor." 

Another Decree followed close upon the above, cashiering 
the Censor Sung Po-lu, on the ground of his generally evil 
reputation and recommendation of bad characters {i.e., the 
reformer Liang Ch'i-ch'ao). The Empress had a special 
grudge against this Censor because he had ventured to 
impeach her morals in a recent memorial, but as he had 
taken no part in the conspiracy against her person she spared 
his life. 

Tzu Hsi in due course proceeded to the " Ocean 
Terrace," accompanied only by Li Lien-ying, who had been I 

208 




Photo, Betines, Peking. 

Circular Throne "Hall in the Grounds of the Lake Palace looted by 
Allied Troops in 1900. 




w\ iilrpll 



►■ai' JFtr 



Pavilion on Lake to the West of P'orbidpen City. 



Photo., BolhiLS, Pckiitg. 



THE COUP BET AT OF 1898 

ordered to replace the Emperor's eunuchs by creatures of his 
own. (Kuang Hsii's former attendants were either put to 
death or banished to the post roads. ) A Manchu who heard 
an account of the interview from Duke Kuei Hsiang, Tz'u 
Hsi's younger brother, is our authority for what occurred at 
this dramatic meeting. The Empress Dowager bluntly 
informed Kuang Hsii that she had decided to spare his life 
and, for the present at any rate, to allow him to retain the 
throne. He would, however, be kept henceforward under 
strict surveillance, and every word of his would be reported 
to her. As to his schemes of reform, which at first she had 
encouraged, little dreaming to what depths of folly his 
infatuate presumption would lead him, they would all be 
repealed. How dared he forget what great benefits he owed 
her, his elevation to the throne and her generosity in 
allowing him to administer the government, he a poor 
puppet, who had no right to be Emperor at all, and whom 
she could unmake at will ? There was not, she said, a single 
Manchu in high place but wished his removal, and urged 
her to resume the Regency. True, he had sympathisers 
among the Chinese, traitors all ; with them she would deal 
in due course. Kuang Hsii's secondary consort (the 
Chen Fei or Pearl Concubine, the only one of his wives with 
whom he seems to have been on affectionate terms) knelt 
then before Tzii Hsi, imploring her to spare the Emperor 
further reproaches. She actually dared to suggest that he 
was, after all, the lawful Sovereign and that not even the 
Empress Dowager could set aside the mandate of Heaven. 
Tzu Hsi angrily dismissed her from the Presence, ordering 
her to be confined in another part of the Palace, where she 
remained until, in 1900, there came an opportunity in which 
the vindictive Empress took summary revenge on the 
presumptuous concubine.^ 

The Empress Consort, with whom Kuang Hsu was hardly 

1 She was thrown down a well, by Tz\i Hsi's orders, as the Court prepared 
for flight after the entrance of the allied forces into Peking. {Vide infra.) 

209 p 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

on speaking terms, was comnianded to remain with him. 
She, as Tzii Hsi's niece, could be trusted to spy upon the 
Emperor and report all his doings. He was allowed to see 
no one but her and the eunuchs in attendance, except in the 
presence of the Empress Dowager. 

To the end of his life Kuang Hsli blamed Yiian Shih-k'ai, 
and him alone, for having betrayed him. To Ylian he owed 
his humiliation, the end of all his cherished plans of govern- 
ment and the twenty-three months of solitary confinement 
which he had to endure on the " Ocean Terrace." Almost 
his last words, as he lay dying, were to bid his brothers 
remember his long agony and promise to be revenged upon 
the author of his undoing. Of Jung Lu he said that it was 
but natural that he should consider first his duty to the 
Empress Dowager and seek to warn her ; and, after all, as 
he had planned Jung Lu's death, he could hardly expect 
from him either devotion or loyalty. The Old Buddha's 
resentment was also natural ; he had plotted against her and 
failed. But Yiian Shih-k'ai had solemnly sworn loyalty and 
obedience. The Emperor never willingly spoke to him 
again, even when, as Viceroy of Chihli, Yiian came to the 
height of his power. 

To-day Ylian lives in retirement, and under the constant 
shadow of fear ; for the Emperor's brother, the Regent, has 
kept his promise. Such are the intricate humanities of the ■ 
inner circle around and about the Dragon Throne, the never- 
ending problem of the human equation as a factor in the 
destinies of peoples. 



210 



XV 
TZIJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

KuANG Hstj's reign was over ; there remained to him only 
the Imperial title. He had had his chance ; in the enthu- 
siasm of youth and new ideas he had played a desperate game 
against the powers of darkness in high places, and he had lost. 
Once more, as after the death of T'ung-Chih, Tzu Hsi could 
make a virtue of her satisfied ambitions. She had given her 
nephew a free hand, she had retired from the field, leaving 
him to steer the ship of State : if he had now steered it into 
troublous and dangerous seas, if, by common consent, she 
were again called to take the helm, this was the doing of 
Heaven and no fault of hers. She could no more be blamed 
for Kuang Hsii's folly than for the vicious habits and pre- 
mature death of her son, which had brought her back to 
power 23 years before. It was clear (and there were many 
voices to reassure her of the fact) that the stars in their 
courses were working for the continuance of her unfettered 
authority, and that any trifling assistance which she might 
have given them would not be too closely scrutinised. 

Kuang Hsii's reign was over ; but his person (frail, melan- 
choly tenement) remained, and Tzii Hsi was never enamoured 
of half measures or ambiguous positions. From the day 
when the pitiful monarch entered his pavilion prison on the 
" Ocean Terrace," she began to make arrangements for his 
mounting the Dragon " and " visiting the Nine Springs " 

211 p2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

in the orthodox classical manner, and for providing the 
Throne with another occupant whose youth, connections and 
docility would enable her to hold the Regency indefinitely. 
Nevertheless, because of the turbulent temper of the south- 
ern provinces and possible manifestations of Europe's curious 
sympathy with the Emperor's Utopian dreams, she realised 
the necessity for proceeding with caution and decorum. It 
was commonly reported throughout the city in the begin- 
ning of October that the Emperor would die with the end of 
the Chinese year. 

Kuang Hsii was a prisoner in his Palace, doomed, as he 
well knew ; yet must he play the puppet Son of Heaven and 
perform each season's appointed posturings. On the 8th day 
of the 8th Moon he appeared therefore, as ordered by his 
attendants, and in the presence of his whole Court performed 
the nine prostrations and other proper acts of obeisance 
before Her Majesty Tzti Hsi, in recognition of his own non- 
entity and her supreme authority. In the afternoon, escorted 
by a strong detachment of Jung Lu's troops, he went from 
the Lake Palace to sacrifice at the Altar of the Moon. Thus, 
pending the coup-de-grdce, the wretched Emperor went 
through the empty ceremonies of State ritual ; high priest, 
that was himself to be the next victim, how bitter must 
have been his thoughts as he was borne back with Imperial 
pomp and circumstance to his lonely place of humiliation ! 

Tzii Hsi then settled down to her work of government, 
returning to it with a zest by no means diminished by the 
years spent in retreat. And first she must justify the policy 
of reaction to herself, to her high officials, and the world at 
large. She must get rid of offenders and surround herself 
with men after her own heart. 

A few days after the Autumn festival and the Emperor's 
melancholy excursion. Her Majesty proceeded to remind the 
Imperial Clansmen that their position would not protect 
them against the consequences of disloyalty ; she was always 
much exercised (remembering the Tsai Yiian conspiracy) at 

212 



TZIJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

any sign of intriguing amongst her Manchu kinsmen. In 
this case her warning took the form of a Decree in which she 
sentenced the " Beileh " Tsai Ch'u ^ to perpetual confinement 
in the "Empty Chamber" of the Clan Court, Tsai Ch'u 
had had the audacity to sympathise with the Emperor's 
reform schemes ; he had also had the bad luck to marry one 
of Tzu Hsi's nieces and to be upon the worst of terms 
with her. When therefore he advised the Emperor, in the 
beginning of the Hundred Days, to put a stop, once and for 
all, to the Old Buddha's interference in State affairs, the 
" mean one of his inner chamber " did not fail to report the 
fact to Her Majesty, and thus to enlist her sympathies and 
activities, from the outset, on the side of the reactionaries. 

At the time immediately following the coup d'etat, public 
opinion at the Capital was divided as to the merits of the 
Emperor's proposed reforms and the wisdom of their 
suppression, but the political instincts of the tribute-fed 
metropolis are, generally speaking, dormant, and what it 
chiefly respects is the energetic display of power. So that, 
on the whole, sympathy was with the Old Buddha. She 
had, moreover, a Bismarckian way of guiding public opinion, 
of directing undercurrents of information through the 
eunuchs and tea-house gossip, in a manner calculated to 
appeal to the instincts of the litei^ati and the bourgeois ; in 
the present instance stress was laid on the Emperor's lack 
of filial piety, as proved by his plotting against his aged 
and august aunt (a thing unpardonable in the eyes of the 
orthodox Confucianist), and on the fact that he enjoyed the 
sympathy and support of foreigners — an argument sufficient 
to damn him in the eyes of even the most progressive 
Chinese. It came, therefore, to be the generally accepted 

1 It is interesting to note that this Manchu Prince (Tsai Ch'u) was released 
from prison by the present Regent^ the Emperor's brother^ and was 
appointed to the command of one of the Manchu Banner Corps on the 
same day, in January 1909, that Yiian Shih-k'ai was dismissed from the 
viceroyalty of Chihli. The Emperor's party, as opposed to the Yehonala 
Clan_, heartily approved of his reinstatement. 

213 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

opinion that His Majesty had shown deplorable want of 
judgment and self-control, and that the Empress Dowager 
was fully justified in resuming control of the government. 
This opinion even came to be accepted and expressed by 
those Legations which had originally professed to see in 
the Emperor's reforms the dawn of a new era for China. 
So elastic is diplomacy in following the line of the least 
resistance, so adroit (in the absence of a policy of its own) 
in accepting and condoning any fait accompli, that it was 
not long before the official attitude of the Legations — 
including the British — had come to deprecate the Emperor's 
unfortunate haste in introducing reforms, reforms which 
every foreigner in China had urged for years, and 
which, accepted in principle by the Empress since 1900, 
have again been welcomed as proof of China's im- 
pending regeneration. In June 1898, the British Minister 
had seen in the Emperor's Reform Edicts proof that " the 
Court had at last thoroughly recognised a real need for 
radical reform."^ In October, when the Chief Reformer 
(K'ang Yu-wei) had been saved from Tzti Hsi's vengeance 
by the British Consul- General at Shanghai and conveyed 
by a British warship to the protection of a British Colony 
(under the mistaken impression that England would actively 
intervene in the cause of progress and on grounds of self- 
interest if not of humanity), we find the tide of expediency 
turned to recognition of the fact that " the Empress 
Dowager and the Manchu party were seriously alarmed 
for their own safety, and looked upon the Reform 
movement as inimical to Manchu rule " ! ^ And two months 
later, influenced no doubt by the impending season of peace 
and good will, the Marquess of Salisbury is seriously 
informed by Sir Claude Macdonald that the wives of the 
foreign Representatives, seven in all, had been received in 
audience by the Empress Dowager on the anniversary of her 
sixty -fourth birthday, and that Her Majesty " made a most 
1 Vide Blue Book China No. I. of 1899> letters Nos. 266, 401, and 426. 

214 



TZU HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

favourable impression, both by the personal interest she took 
in all her guests and by her courteous amiability." ^ On 
which occasion the puppet Emperor was exhibited, to 
comply with the formalities, and was made to shake hands 
with all the ladies. And so the curtain was rung down, 
and the Reform play ended, to the satisfaction of all (or 
nearly all) concerned. 

Nevertheless, the British Minister and others, disturbed 
at the persistent rumours that " the Empress Dowager was 
about to proceed to extreme steps in regard to the 
Emperor," ^ went so far as to warn the Chinese Government 
against anything so disturbing to the European sense of 
fitness and decency. Foreign countries, the Yamen was 
told, would view with displeasure and alarm his sudden 
demise. When the news of the British Minister's inter- 
vention became known in the tea-houses and recorded in 
the Press, much indignation was expressed : this was a 
purely domestic question, for which precedents existed in 
plenty and in which foreigners' advice was inadmissible. 
The Emperor's acceptance of new-fangled foreign ideas was 
a crime in the eyes of the Manchus, but his enlistment 
of foreign sympathy and support was hateful to Manchus 
and Chinese alike. 

Matters soon settled down, however, into the old well- 
worn grooves, the people satisfied and even glad in the know- 
ledge that the Old Buddha was once more at the helm. 
In the capital the news had been sedulously spread — in order 
to prepare the way for the impending drama of expiation — 
that Kuang Hsij had planned to murder Her Majesty, and 
his present punishment was therefore regarded as mild 
beyond his deserts.^ Scholars, composing essays appropriate 
to the occasion, freely compared His Majesty to that 

1 Vide Blue Book China No. I. of 1899, letters Nos. 266, 401, and 426. 

2 As an example of Chinese official methods : the Shanghai Taotai when 
requesting the British Consul-General's assistance to arrest K'ang Yu-wei, 
did not hesitate to say that the Emperor was dead, murdered by the Chief 
Reformer. Vide Blue Book No. 1 of 1899, letter No. 401. 

215 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Emperor of the T'ang Dynasty (a.d. 762) who had instigated 
the murdering of the Empress Dowager of his day. Kuang 
Hsii's death was therefore freely predicted and its eifects 
discounted ; there is no doubt that it would have caused 
little or no comment in the north of China, however serious 
its consequences might have been in the south. The public 
mind having been duly prepared, the Empress Dowager, in 
the name of the prospective victim, issued a Decree stating 
that the Son of Heaven was seriously ill ; no surprise or 
apprehension was expressed, and the sending of competent 
physicians from the provinces to attend His Majesty was 
recognised as a necessary concession to formalities. " Ever 
since the 4th Moon," said this Decree {i.e., since the 
beginning of the hundred days of reform), " I have been 
grievously ill ; nor can I find any alleviation of my 
sickness." It was the pro forma announcement of his 
impending despatch, and as such it was, received by the 
Chinese people. 

Amongst the doctors summoned to attend His Majesty 
was Ch'en Lien-fang, for many years the most celebrated 
physician in China. The following account of his experiences 
at the capital and the nature of his duties, was supplied by 
himself at the time, to one of the writers, for publication in 
The Times. 

" When the Edict was issued calling upon the provincial 
Viceroys and Governors to send native doctors of distinction 
to Peking to advise in regard to the .Emperor's illness, 
Ch'en Lien-fang received orders from the Governor at 
Soochow to leave for the north without delay. This in 
itself, apart from the uncongenial and unremunerative 
nature of the duty (of which Ch'en was well aware), was no 
light undertaking for a man of delicate physique whose 
age was over three score years and ten ; but there was no 
possibility of evading the task. He according left his large 
practice in the charge of two confidential assistants, or 
pupils, and, having received from the Governor a sum of 

216 



TZU HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

6,000 taels for travelling expenses and remuneration in 
advance, made his way to Peking and reported for duty to 
the Grand Council. When he arrived there, he found three 
other native physicians of considerable repute already in 
attendance, summoned in obedience to the Imperial 
commands. Dr. D^theve, of the French Legation, had 
already paid his historical visit to the Emperor, and his 
remarkable diagnosis of the Son of Heaven's symptoms was 
still affording amusement to the Legations. The aged 
native physician spoke in undisguised contempt both of the 
French doctor's comments on the case and of his suggestions 
for its treatment. His own description of the Emperor's 
malady was couched in language not unlike that which 
writers of historical novels attribute to the physicians 
of Europe in the Middle Ages ; he spoke reverently of 
influence and vapours at work in the august person of his 
Sovereign, learnedly of heat-flushings and their occult 
causes, and plainly of things which are more suited to 
Chinese than to British readers. Nevertheless, his description 
pointed clearly to disease of the respiratory organs — which 
he said had existed for over twelve years — to general 
debility, and to a feverish condition which he ascribed 
to mental anxiety combined with physical weakness. Before 
he left Peking (about the middle of November) the fever had 
abated and the patient's symptoms had decidedly improved ; 
the case was, however, in his opinion, of so serious a nature 
that he decided to leave it, if possible, in the hands of his 
younger confreres— an object which by dint of bribing 
certain Court officials he eventually achieved. Asked if he 
considered the Emperor's condition critical, he replied 
oracularly that if he lived to see the Chinese New Year his 
strength would thereafter return gradually with the spring, 
and the complete restoration of his health might be 
expected. 

" Some few days after his arrival in Peking, Ch'en was 
summoned to audience by orders conveyed through a 
member of the Grand Council ; the Emperor and the 
Dowager Empress were awaiting his visit in a hall on the 
south side of the Palace. The consultation was curiously 
indicative of the divinity which hedges about the ruler of the 

217 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Middle Kingdom ; suggestive, too, of the solidity of that 
conservatism which dictates the inner policy of China. 
Ch'en entered the presence of his Sovereign on his knees, 
crossing the apartment in that position, after the customary 
kowtows. The Emperor and the Dowager Empress were 
seated at opposite sides of a low table on the dais, and faced 
each other in that position during the greater part of the 
interview. The Emperor appeared pale and listless, had a 
troublesome irritation of the throat, and was evidently 
feverish ; the thin oval of his face, clearly defined features, 
and aquiline nose gave him, in the physician's eyes (to use 
his own words), the appearance of a foreigner. The 
Empress, who struck him as an extremely well-preserved 
and intelligent-looking woman, seemed to be extremely 
solicitous as to the patient's health and careful for his 
comfort. As it would have been a serious breach of 
etiquette for the physician to ask any questions of His 
Majesty, the Empress proceded to describe his symptoms, 
the invalid occasionally signifying confirmation of what was 
said by a word or a nod. During this monologue, the 
physician, following the customary procedure at Imperial 
audiences, kept his gaze concentrated upon the floor until, 
at the command of the Empress, and still kneeling, he was 
permitted to place one hand upon the Emperor's wrist. 
There was no feeling of the pulse ; simply contact with the 
flat of the hand, first on one side of the wrist and then on 
the other. This done, the Empress continued her narrative 
of the patient's sufferings ; she described the state of his 
tongue and the symptoms of ulceration in the mouth and 
throat, but as it was not permissible for the doctor to 
examine these, he was obliged to make the best of a 
somewhat unprofessional description. As he wisely 
observed, it is difficult to look at a patient's tongue when 
his exalted rank compels you to keep your eyes fixed 
rigidly on the floor. The Empress having concluded her 
remarks on the case, Ch'en was permitted to withdraw and 
to present to the Grand Council his diagnosis, together with 
advice as to future treatment, which was subsequently 
communicated officially to the Throne. The gist of his 
advice was to prescribe certain tonics of the orthodox native 

218 



TZtJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

type and to suggest the greatest possible amount of mental 
and physical rest." ' 



" 1 



The aged physician's oracular forecast was justified. The 
Emperor lived to see the New Year and thereafter to regain 
his strength, a result due in some degree to the Empress 
Dowager's genuine fear of foreign intervention, but chiefly 
to her recognition of the strength of public opinion against 
her in the south of China and of the expediency of 
conciliating it. In the Kuang provinces there was no doubt 
of the bitterly anti-Manchu feeling aroused by the execution 
of the Cantonese reformers : these turbulent southerners 
were fierce and loud in their denunciations of the Manchus 
and all their works, and it would not have required much to 
fan the flames of a new and serious rebellion. The south 
was well aware, for news travels swiftly in China, that the 
Emperor's life was in danger and that the close of the year 
was the time fixed for his death, and from all sides protests 
and words of warning came pouring from the provinces to 
the capital, addressed not only to the metropolitan boards 
but to the Throne itself. Amongst these was a telegram 
signed by a certain Prefect of Shanghai named Ching 
Yiian-shan, who, in the name of " all the gentry, scholars, 
merchants and public of Shanghai," referred to the Edict 
which announced the Emperor's illness and implored the 
Empress, the Clansmen and the Grand Council to permit 
his sacred Majesty to resume the government " notwith- 
standing his indisposition," and to abandon all thoughts of 
his abdication. He described the province of Kiangsu as 
being in a state of suppressed ferment and frankly alluded 
to the probability of foreigners intervening in the event of 
the Emperor's death. Tzu Hsi was much incensed with 
this courageous official, not because he actually accused her 
of premeditating murder, but because he dared threaten her 
with its consequences. She gave orders that he be 

1 From The Times of 31st March, 1899. 
219 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

summarily cashiered, whereupon, fearing further manifesta- 
tions of her wrath, he fled to Macao. But his bold words 
undoubtedly contributed to saving the Emperor's life. 

Of all the high provincial authorities, one only was found 
brave and disinterested enough to speak on behalf of the 
Emperor ; this was Liu K'un-yi, the Viceroy of Nanking. 
He was too big a man to be publicly rebuked at a time like 
this and Tzti Hsi professed to admire his disinterested 
courage ; but she was highly incensed at his action, which 
contrasted strongly with the astute opportunism of his 
colleague, the scholarly magnate Chang Chih-tung, Viceroy 
of Wuch'ang, who had been an ardent advocate of the 
reformers so long as the wind blew fair in that quarter. 
Only six months before he had recommended several 
progressives (amongst them his own secretary, Yang Jui) to 
the Emperor's notice, and just before the storm burst he had 
been summoned to Peking by Kuang Hsii to support 
His Majesty's policy as a member of the Grand Council. 
No sooner had the Empress Dowager declared herself on 
the side of the reactionaries, however, and the Emperor had 
failed in his attempt to win over Yiian Shih-k'ai and his 
troops, than Chang telegraphed to the Old Buddha warmly 
approving her policy, and urging strong measures against 
the reformers. The advice was superfluous ; Tzti Hsi, 
having put her hand to the plough, was not the woman to 
remove it before her work was well done. 

On the 11th day of the 8th Moon, she summoned Jung 
Lu to the capital to assist her in stamping out the reform 
movement. The Board of Punishments had just sent in a 
memorial urging the appointment of an Imperial Commission 
for the trial of K'ang Yu-wei's colleagues. Tzu Hsi, in 
reply, directed them to act in consultation with the Grand 
Council and to cross-examine the prisoners " with the 
utmost severity." At the same time she ordered the 
imprisonment in the Board's gaol of Chang Yin-huan,i the 

1 Chang Yin-huan, who had been created a Knight Commander of 

220 



TZtJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

Emperor's trusted adviser and friend who, she observed, 
"bears an abominable reputation." This Edict took 
occasion to state that the Throne, anxious to temper justice 
with mercy, would refi'ain from any general proscription or 
campaign of revenge, " although frilly aware that many 
prominent scholars and officials had allowed themselves to 
be corrupted by the reformers." 

The Empress's next step, advised by Jung Lu, was to 
issue a Decree, in the name of the Emperor, in which she 
justified the policy of reaction and reassured the Conservative 
party. The document is an excellent example of her 
methods. While the Emperor is made to appear as 
convinced of the error of his ways, all blame for the 
" feelings of apprehension " created by the reform movement 
is relegated to " our officials' failure to give effect to our 
orders in the proper way," so that everybody's " face " is 
saved. The following abridged translation is of permanent 
interest, for the same arguments are in use to-day and will 
undoubtedly be required hereafter, when the Manchus come 
to deal with the impending problems of Constitutional 
Government : — 

" The original object of the Throne in introducing 
reforms in the adminstration of the government was to 
increase the strength of our Empire and to ameliorate the 
condition of our subjects. It was no sudden whim for 
change, nor any contempt for tradition that actuated us ; 
surely our subjects must recognise that our action was frilly 

St. Michael and St. George in connection with Queen Victoria's Jubilee 
celebration^ was subsequently put to death, after banishment to Turkestan. 
An order given by Prince Tuan at the commencement of the Boxer crisis 
was the immediate cause of his execution. 

Another refoi-mer named Hsii Chih-ching was condemned to imprison- 
ment for life in the Board of Punishments under this same Decree ; he was 
released by the Allies in August 1900, when he proceeded at once to T'ai- 
Yuan fu, and handed himself over to justice, disdaining to accept his release 
at the hands of foreigners. This incident is typical of the Chinese officials' 
attitude of mind and of their revei-ence for the Decrees of the head of the 
State 

221 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

justifiable and indeed inevitable. Nevertheless, we cannot 
shut our eyes to the fact that feelings of apprehension have 
been aroused, entirely due to the failure of our officials 
to give effect to our orders in the proper way, and that this 
again has led to the dissemination of wild rumours and 
wrong ideas amongst the ignorant masses of the people. 
For instance, when we abolished six superfluous government 
boards, we did so in the public interest, but the immediate 
result has been that we have been plagued with Memorials 
suggesting that we should destroy and reconstruct the 
whole system of administration. It is evident that, unless 
we explain our policy as a whole, great danger may arise 
from the spread of such ideas, and to prevent any such 
result we now command that the six metropohtan 
departments which we previously abolished be re-established 
exactly as before. Again, our original intention in 
authorising the establishment of official newspapers, and 
allowing all and sundry of our subjects to address us, was 
to encourage the spread of knowledge and to improve our 
own sources of intelligence. Unfortunately, however, the 
right of addressing the Throne has been greatly abused, 
and the suggestions which have reached us in this way 
have not only been trivial and useless on many occasions, 
but have recently shown a tendency towards revolutionary 
propaganda. For this reason the right to memorialise the 
Throne will in future be strictly reserved in accordance 
with the established and ancient custom. As for official 
newspapers, we have come to the conclusion that they 
are quite useless for any purposes of the government, and 
that they only lead to popular discontent ; they are 
therefore abolished from this day forth. The proper 
training grounds for national industry and talent are 
Colleges, and these are to go on as before, it being the 
business of the local officials, acting upon public opinion 
in their respective districts, to continue the improvement 
of education on the lines laid down ; but there is to be no 
conversion of temples and shrines into schools, as was 
previously ordered, because this might lead to strong 
objection on the part of the people. Generally speaking, 
there shall be no measures taken contrary to the established 

222 



TZU HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

order of things throughout the Empire. The times are 
critical, and it behoves us, therefore, to follow in 
government matters the happy mean and to avoid all 
extreme measures and abuses. It is our duty, without 
prejudice, to steer a middle course, and it is for you, our 
officials, to aim at permanence and stability of administration 
in every branch of the government." 

Jung Lu was now raised to membership of the Grand 
Council, and given supreme command of the northern forces 
and control of the Board of War ; he thus became the 
most powerful official in the Empire, holding a position for 
which no precedent existed in the annals of the Manchu 
Dynasty. He had once more proved loyal to the Empress 
and faithful to the woman whom he had served since the 
days of the ffight to Jehol ; and he had his reward. It was 
natural, if not inevitable, that the part played by Jung Lu in 
the crisis of the coup d'etat should expose him to severe 
criticism, especially abroad ; but, from the Chinese official's 
point of view, his action in supporting the Empress Dowager 
against her nephew, the Emperor, was nothing more than his 
duty, and as a statesman he showed himself consistently 
moderate, sensible, and reliable. The denunciations sub- 
sequently poured upon him by the native and foreign Press 
at the time of the Boxer rising were the result, partly of 
the unrefuted falsehoods disseminated by K'ang Yu-wei and 
his followers, and partly of the Legations' prejudice (thence 
arising) and lack of accurate information. As will hereafter 
be shown, all his effi)rts were directed towards stemming 
the tide of that fanatical outbreak and restraining his 
Imperial mistress from acts of folly. Amidst the cowardice, 
ignorance and cruelty of the Manchu Clansmen his fore- 
sight and courage stand out steadily in welcome relief ; the 
only servant of the Throne during Tzti Hsi's long rule who 
approaches him in administrative ability and disinterested 
patriotism is Tseng Kuo-fan (of whose career a brief account 
has already been given). From this time forward until his 

223 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

death (1903) we find him ever at Tzu Hsi's right hand, her 
most trusted and efficient adviser ; and her choice was well 
made. As will be seen in a later chapter, there was a time 
in 1900, when the Old Buddha, distraught by the tumult and 
the shouting, misled by her own hopes, her superstitious 
beliefs and the clamorous advice of her kinsfolk, allowed 
Prince Tuan and his fellow fanatics to undermine for a little 
while Jung Lu's influence. Nevertheless (as will be seen by 
the diary of Ching Shan) it was to him that she always 
turned, in the last resort, for counsel and comfort ; it was on 
him that she leaned in the dark hour of final defeat, — and he 
never failed her. She lived to realise that the advice which 
he gave, and which she sometimes neglected, was invariably 
sound. Amidst all the uncertainties of recent Chinese history 
this much is certain, that the memory of Jung Lu deserves a 
far higher place in the esteem of his countrymen and of 
foreigners than it has hitherto received. Unaware himself of 
many of the calumnies that had been circulated about him at 
the time of the Court's flight, he was greatly hurt, and his 
sense of justice outraged, by the cold reception given him by 
the Legations after the Court's return to Peking. Thereafter, 
until his death, he was wont to say to his intimate friends that 
while he would never regret the stand he had taken against 
the Boxers, he could not understand or forgive the hostility 
and ingratitude shown him by foreigners. " It was not for 
love towards them," he observed, on one occasion recorded, 
" that he had acted as he did, but only because of his devotion 
to the Empress Dowager and the Manchu Dynasty ; never- 
theless, since his action had coincided with the interests of 
the foreigner, he was entitled to some credit for it." 

The Empress Dowager consulted long and earnestly with 
Jung Lu as to the punishment to be inflicted upon the 
reformers. He advocated strong measures of repression, 
holding that the prestige of the Manchu Dynasty was 
involved. The six prisoners were examined by the Board of 
Punishments, and Jung Lu closely questioned them as to 

224 



TZIJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

K'ang Yu-wei's intentions in regard to the Empress 
Dowager. Documents found in Kang's house had revealed 
every detail of the plot, and upon the Grand Council 
recommended the execution of all the prisoners. There 
being no doubt that they had been guilty of high treason 
against Her Majesty, it seemed clearly inadvisable to 
prolong the trial, especially as there wsls undoubtedly a 
risk of widening the breach between Manchus and Chinese 
by any delay in the proceedings, at a time when party spirit 
was running high on both sides. The Old Buddha 
concurred in the decision of the Grand Council, desiring to 
terminate the crisis as soon as possible ; accordingly, on the 
13th day of the Moon, the reformers were executed. They 
met their death bravely, their execution outside the city 
being witnessed by an immense crowd. It was reported 
that amongst the papers of Yang Jui were found certain 
highly compromising letters addressed to him by the 
Emperor himself, in which the Empress Dowager was 
bitterly denounced. There was also a Memorial by Yang 
impeaching Her Majesty for gross immorality and illicit 
relations with several persons in high positions, one of whom 
was Jung Lu ; this document had been annotated in red ink 
by the Emperor himself. It quoted songs and ballads 
current in the city of Canton, referring to Her Majesty's 
alleged vicious practices, and warned the Emperor that, if 
the Manchu dynasty should come now to its end, the fault 

-would lie as much with Tzu Hsi and her evil deeds as was 
the case when the Shang dynasty (of the 12th Century B.C.) 

-fell by reason of the Emperor Chou Hsin's infatuation for 
his concubine Ta Chi, whose orgies are recorded in history. 
Yang Jui had compared the Empress Dowager's life at the 
Summer Palace with the enormities committed by this 
infamous concubine in her palace by the '• Lake of Wine " ; 
small wonder then, said Tzu Hsi's advocates in defence of 
drastic measures, that, having seen for herself, in the 
Emperor's own handwriting, that these treasonable 

225 Q 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

utterances met with his favour and support, Her Majesty 
was vindictively incHned and determined to put an end, 
once and for all, to his relations with the Reform party. 

The edict which ordered the execution of the Reform 
leaders was drafted by the Empress Dowager herself with 
the aid of Jung Lu, but with cynical irony it was issued in 
the name of the Emperor. It was written in red ink as an 
indication of its special importance, a formality usually 
reserved for decrees given by the Sovereign under his 
own hand. After laying stress upon the necessity for 
introducing reforms in the country's administration, and on 
the anxiety felt by the Throne in regard to the increasing 
difficulties of government, this Decree proceeded to state 
that K'ang Yu-wei and his followers, taking advantage 
of the necessities of the moment, had entered into a 
rebellious conspiracy, aiming at the overthrow of the Throne 
itself; fortunately, their treacherous intentions had been 
disclosed, and the whole plot revealed. The Decree 
continued as followed : — 

" We are further informed that, greatly daring, these 
traitors have organised a secret Society, the objects of which 
are to overthrow the Manchu dynasty for the benefit of the 
Chinese. Following the precepts of the Sages, We, the 
Emperor, are in duty bound to propagate filial piety as 
the foremost of all virtues, and have always done so, as our 
subjects must be fully aware. But the writings of K'ang 
Yu-wei were, in their tendency, depraved and immoral ; 
they contain nothing but abominable doctrines intended to 
flout and destroy the doctrines of the Sages. Originally 
impressed by his knowledge of contemporary politics, we 
appointed him to be a Secretary of the Tsungli Yamen, and 
subsequently gave him charge of the establishment of the 
proposed official newspaper at Shanghai ; but instead -of 
going to his post, he remained for the purposes of his evil 
conspiracies at Peking. Had it not been that, by the 
protecting influences of our ancestors, his plot was revealed, 
appalling disasters must undoubtedly have followed. K'ang 

226 



TZtj HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

himself, the moving spirit in this conspiracy, has fled from 
justice, and we rely upon the proper authorities to see to it 
that he be arrested, and that capital punishment be inflicted 
upon him." 

The Decree then proceeded to award the death penalty to 
K'ang Yu-wei's colleague, Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, a scholar of the 
highest repute, who subsequently found a refuge in Japan, 
and there edits a newspaper of high and well-deserved 
reputation. Next in order of importance were the three 
Secretaries of the Grand Council, who were awaiting the 
result of their trial in the Board of Punishments. The Edict 
added that any delay in their execution might, in the 
opinion of the Grand Council, lead to a revolutionary 
movement, and for this reason further formalities of justice 
in regard to all six prisoners were dispensed with, and their 
summary decapitation ordered. 

After disposing of K'ang Yu-wei's followers and accom- 
plices, the Decree once more emphasises the heinous guilt of 
their leader : — 

"Our dynasty," it says, "rules in accordance with the teach- 
ings of Confucius. Such treason as that of K'ang Yu-wei is 
abhorred by gods and men alike. Surely the elemental 
forces of nature must refuse to protect such a man,^ surely 
all humanity must unite in the extermination of such 
noisome creatures. As to those of his followers who, for the 
most part, were led away by his immoral doctrines, their 
number is legion, and the Throne has taken note of their 
names, but the Imperial clemency is all-abounding, and we 
have decided to go no further with our enquiries into these 
treasonable plottings. Let all concerned now take warning 
by Kang's example. I^et them conscientiously follow the 
doctrines of the Sages, and turn their hearts to wisdom in 
devotion to the Throne." 

^ On the occasion of her seventieth birthday (1904), the Empress Dowager 
promulgated a general amnesty for all those who had taken part in the 
Reform Movement of 1898, excepting only the leaders K'ang Yu-wei and 
Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, who were expressly excluded from grace, and Dr. Sun 
Yat-sen, who was a fugitive from justice on other counts. 

227 Q 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Despite the Throne's " all abounding clemency " and Tzii 
Hsi's declared intention to take no steps beyond the execu- 
tion of the six reform leaders, her " divine wrath " continued 
to be stirred up by the recollection of the personal attacks that 
had been made against her. Following immediately upon 
the Decree above quoted, came another whereby Chang 
Yin-huan was sentenced to banishment to the New Domin- 
ion on a vague charge of the usual classical type. His real 
offence lay in that he had denounced the Empress Dowager 
for extravagance, and she was the more embittered against 
him because the British Minister had presumed to intervene 
with a plea for his life. 

In another Decree the proposed visit to Tientsin was 
cancelled, at the earnest request of Jung Lu, who dreaded 
the possibility of an attempt on the life of the Empress 
Dowager. Her feminine curiosity had been stirred by the 
prospect of a visit to the Treaty port and a change from the 
seclusion of Peking, but she yielded to the advice of the 
Commander-in-Chief At the same time military reorgani- 
sation was pressed forward with the greatest energy, and the 
occasion was taken to bestow largesse on the Chihli troops. 

Upon Jung Lu coming to Peking Yii Lu was appointed 
to succeed him as Viceroy of Chihli. This bigoted official 
enjoyed in a large measure the confidence of the Empress 
Dowager. Unusually ignorant, even for a Manchu, and 
totally devoid of ability, he was subsequently responsible for 
the growth of the Boxer movement in and around Tientsin. 
At this particular crisis, however, distrust of the Chinese was 
rife, and the Old Buddha felt that the presence of a Manchu 
Viceroy to control the Metropolitan Province was necessary 
to prevent any organised movement by the revolutionaries. 

There now remained unpunished in Peking only one high 
official who had been in any way publicly associated with 
the reformers, i.e., Li Tuan-fen, President of the Board of 
Ceremonies. After waiting a few days and finding that his 
case was not referred to in any of the Edicts, he applied in a 

228 



TZtJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

Memorial to the Throne that the offence which he had 
committed (in recommending K'ang Yu-wei and other 
reformers for government employment) should be suitably 
punished. The Memorial is in itself a most interesting 
document, as it throws light on several characteristic features 
of the internal economy of the Chinese Government. The 
writer, after admitting his guilt, and expressing astonishment 
that it has not been brought home to him, placed on record 
his gratitude for the clemency thus far exercised, and asked 
that, as his conscience gave him no peace, Her Majesty 
might be pleased to determine the penalty for his guilt, " to 
serve as a warning to all officials who may be led to recom- 
mend evil characters to the notice of the Throne." Tzti 
Hsi's reply was equally interesting, and was issued, as usual, 
in the name of the Emperor : — 

" We have read the Memorial of Li Tuan-fen. This 
official has enjoyed our special favour ; nevertheless, it was 
he who recommended to our notice that base traitor, Kang 
Yu-wei, and he repeated his recommendations at more than 
one subsequent audience. His present action in admitting his 
guilt after the conspiracy has been exposed indicates a certain 
amount of low cunning on his part, which makes it quite 
impossible for us to treat him with further leniency. He is 
therefore to be cashiered forthwith and banished to the New 
Dominion, where he will be kept under close observation by 
the local authorities." ^ 

The whole episode and correspondence are strongly 
suggestive of the sport of a cat with a mouse. 

By this time the violent measures of the reactionary party 
had aroused a storm of indignation in the South, where 
societies were being organised in support of His Majesty 
Kuanghsii. Newspapers published in the foreign settlements 
at Shanghai repeated daily the wildest and bitterest denun- 
ciations against Her Majesty and Jung Lu, the latter being 

1 Li Tuan-fen returned from exile in Turkestan under the amnesty 
of 1904. 

229 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

specially singled out for attack. The writers of these articles, 
evidently inspired by the fugitive reform leaders, declared 
that the movement in Peking was essentially anti- Chinese, 
and that it would undoubtedly end in the appointment of 
Manchus to all important posts in the Empire. On the other 
hand, anti-foreign disturbances were fomented in several 
provinces by those who believed that the Empress Dowager 
would be gratified by these manifestations of public feeling. 
This state of affairs was undoubtedly fraught with serious 
danger, to which the attention of the Empress Dowager was 
drawn in a very plain-spoken Memorial by a Censor and 
Imperial Clansman named Hui Chang. 

The memorialist congratulated the Throne upon the 
energetic and successful suppression of K'ang Yu-wei's 
treason, an achievement which would redound for ever to 
the fame of the Old Buddha. He then referred to the 
position of affairs in South China as follows : — 

" Of late many rumours have been in circulation, due to 
the fact that the criminals executed by order of the Throne 
are all Chinese, and your Majesties are therefore accused of 
desiring to promote the interests of Manchus at the expense 
of your Chinese subjects. Although it should be well known 
and recognised that our dynasty has never held the balance 
unevenly between Manchus and Chinese, yet the followers of 
K'ang Yu-wei are undoubtedly taking advantage of these 
rumours, and the result threatens the State with danger." 

The writer, after referring to the general futility of Edicts, 
then advised that special honours should be accorded to a few 
selected Chinese of undoubted loyalty and orthodoxy, by 
which means public opinion would be reassured. He justly 
observed that, if those who had been guilty of high treason 
had been made to suffer the penalty, those who had been 
consistently loyal should be suitably rewarded. He advised 
that all those who, during the past few months, had sent in 
Memorials denouncing the reform movement and rebuking 

230 



TZtj HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

the corrupt tendencies of the so-called new scholarship, 
should be advanced in the public service. Finally, he made 
the significant observation, that loyalty and patriotism when 
displayed by Chinese subjects are of greater value to the 
integrity of the Empire than these virtues when displayed by 
Manchus, an indication of statecraft likely to appeal to the 
acute intelligence of the Old Buddha. The Empress 
Dowager's reply, while ostensibly in the nature of a rebuke, 
Was marked by unusual evasiveness on the subject actually 
at issue. She laid stress only on the strict impartiality of 
the Throne's decision, professing to be animated by feelings 
of abstract justice, and to be free from all manner of prejudice, 
whether against Manchus or Chinese. The Memorialist was, 
however, shortly afterwards promoted, and as a proof of her 
impartiality, the Empress Dowager proceeded, on the same 
day, to dismiss half-a-dozen high officials, one of whom was 
a Manchu ; and on the ground that Jung Lu himself had 
recommended one of the reformers for employment, she 
ordered that he too be referred to the Board of Civil 
Appointments for the determination of a suitable penalty. 
This was merely "saving face." 

Stirred, as usual, to activity by anything in the nature of 
criticism, Her Majesty now issued Decrees in rapid suc- 
cession. One of these declared the necessity for adequate 
protection of foreigners in the interior and for the Legations 
in Peking; another took the form of a homily to the 
Provincial Authorities in regard to the selection of subordin- 
ate officials. A third called for advice from the Provincial 
Viceroys and Governors, but they were told, at the same 
time, to avoid criticising on party grounds because "the 
Throne was fully aware of the motives which usually inspire 
such attacks." 

Subsequently, the Empress Dowager took occasion in a 
homily on the whole art of government, to place on record a 
defence of her policy as head of the Manchus in China. 
The following extract from this Decree is worth quoting : — 

231 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" The test of good government has always been the 
absence of rebelHon ; a State which takes adequate measures 
for self-defence can never be in serious danger. By the 
accumulated wisdom of six successive Sovereigns, our 
dynasty has succeeded in establishing a system of govern- 
ment, based on absolute justice and benevolence, which 
approaches very nearly to perfection. It has been our 
pleasure to grant immediate relief in times of flood and 
famine. When rivers burst their banks, our first thought 
has ever been the safety of our people. Never have we 
resorted to conscription, or to the levying of corve'es. We 
have always excluded Chinese women from service as 
subordinates in the Palace. Surely such evidences of 
benevolent solicitude merit the hearty co-operation of all our 
subjects, and entitle us to expect that all our people, high 
and low, should peacefully pursue their business in life, so 
that all men, even the humblest labourers, may enjoy the 
blessings of peace. Is it any wonder then, that our soul is 
vexed when abominable treachery and the preaching of 
rebellion have been permitted to exist and to be spread 
broad- cast ; when high officials, lacking all proper principles, 
have dared to recommend traitors to the Throne, in 
furtherance of their own evil designs ? When we think of 
these things, our righteous indignation almost overwhelms 
us ; nevertheless, we have granted a general amnesty, and 
will enquire no further into these base plottings." 

The Decree concluded with the usual exhortation to the 
official class, and an appeal for the exercise of ideal virtue. 

Her Majesty's next step was to reinstate certain leading 
reactionaries, whom the Emperor had recently dismissed, 
notably Hsii Ying-kuei, who had denounced the reformer 
Wang Chao. The Emperor's party was now completely 
broken up, and he was left without supporters or friends in 
Peking. The Manchu Treasurer of Kansuh (Tseng Ho) 
was the last high official to speak in favour of the reform 
movement, or rather of one of its chief advocates, and, by 
so doing, to bring down upon him the wrath of the Old 

232 



TZtJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

Buddha. The Memorial which brought about his summary 
dismissal from office, never again to be re-employed, referred 
in terms of regret to the disgrace of Weng T'ung-ho, the 
Emperor's tutor. 

Her Majesty next turned her attention to the provinces, 
and administered a severe rebuke to Liu K'un-yi, who, on 
grounds of ill-health, had asked to be relieved of the 
Nanking Viceroyalty. Her Majesty, reminding him in the 
classical phraseology of the high favours showered upon him 
by the Throne, directed him to abstain from frivolous 
excuses and to continue in the performance of his duties, 
exercising more diligence therein, and more care in his 
selection of subordinate officials. 

The audacity of Weng T'ung-ho continued to rankle 
sorely in Her Majesty's mind, and to allow him to continue 
to live in honourable retirement in his native place without 
loss of rank or other punishment was not in accordance 
with her ideas of fitness ; nor was it likely that Jung Lu, 
who had always borne a grudge against the Imperial tutor, 
would do anything to mitigate her wrath against him. In a 
Decree, issued in the name of the Emperor, she once more 
vented her spite on this aged and inoffisnsive scholar, in 
a manner highly characteristic of her temperament. The 
Edict is sufficiently interesting to justify the following 
quotation : — 

" When Weng T'ung-ho acted as our Imperial tutor, his 
method of instruction left much to be desired ; he never 
succeeded in explaining the inner meaning of classical or 
historical subjects, but would spend his time endeavouring to 
gain our favour and distract our attention by showing us 
curios and pictures. He would endeavour also to ascertain 
our views on current events and matters of policy by 
discussing questions of general contemporary interest. 
During the war with Japan, for instance, he would at one 
time profess to advocate peace, and again he would be 

233 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

all for war, and finally he even advised us to flee from 
our capital. He had a habit of exaggerating facts in order 
to make them coincide with his own views, and the result of 
the foolish and wrongful performance of his duties is now to 
be seen in a situation almost irreparable. In the spring 
of last year he was all in favour of reform, and secretly 
recommended to us K'ang Yu-wei as a man whose ability, he 
said, exceeded his own one hundred fold. We, being 
anxious above all things to strengthen our Empire at a time 
of national danger, reluctantly yielded to K'ang Yu-wei's 
advice in regard to reform. He, however, took advantage 
of our complaisance to plot treason. For this Weng 
T'ung-ho is primarily to blame, and his guilt is too great 
to be overlooked. Besides this, he has incurred our 
displeasure in several other ways ; for instance, he would 
allow himself to show annoyance if we disagreed with his 
recommendations, and would even attempt to browbeat us. 
At such times his language was most improper, and the 
recollection of his bullying propensities remains in our mind 
most unpleasantly. In a previous Decree we ordered him 
to vacate his post and return to his native place, but for 
his many offences this in itself is no adequate punishment. 
We now order that he be cashiered, never again to be 
re-employed, and that henceforth he be held under close 
supervision of the local authorities and prohibited from 
creating trouble, as a warning to all double-minded officials 
for the future."^ 

Weng T'ung-ho lived in his family home (Chang Shu in 
Kiangsu) until June, 1904, beloved and respected by all who 
knew him. He was by no means a nonentity like most 
of the aged officials near the Throne, but rather a person of 
considerable force of character, and after his dismissal lived 
always in the hope that he might yet return to serve the 
Emperor and the cause of reform upon the death of the 
Old Buddha. Meanwhile, he became a source of con- 

1 Weng T'ung-ho has been posthumously restored to his full rank and 
titles by a Decree of the present Regent. Thus is the Emperor tardily 
justified and the pale ghosts of his followers continue to suifer^ even in 
Hades, the chances and changes of Chinese official life ! 

234 



TZtJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

siderable trouble and anxiety to the District Magistrate 
of his native place, as he made it his practice to call on that 
official three times a month, and, in the guise of a suppliant, 
to address him, thus, on his knees : " You have orders from 
the Throne secretly to keep watch over my conduct, and I 
therefore now attend, as in duty bound, to assist you in 
carrying out these orders." As the Magistrate could never 
be certain that the once all-powerful Grand Secretary might 
not return to power, his own position was evidently one of 
considerable embarrassment, especially as the Weng family 
was the most important of the whole neighbourhood. 
In the intervals of baiting local officials, the Grand Secretary 
spent his time in scholarly retirement, and a volume of the 
letters vn:itten by him at this period has since been published ; 
they show the man in a most attractive light, as a scholar 
and a poet ; his light and easy style, combined with a 
tendency to mysticism and philosophic speculation, has 
always been highly appreciated by the literati. As his 
fortune had not been taken from him, his old age was 
probably happier in his native place than had it been 
exposed to the intrigues and hard work of official life at the 
Capital ; and he died in the enjoyment of a reputation for 
patriotism and intelligence which extended far beyond 
his native province, and which, since his death, has greatly 
increased. 

The Empress Dowager, realising that the loyalty of the 
literati had been greatly shaken by the Emperor's abolition 
of the old system of classical studies and public exam- 
inations, proceeded to reverse His Majesty's decision in a 
Decree which thoroughly delighted the Conservative Party. 
Scholars throughout the country praised it in unmeasured 
terms, as a striking example of the Old Buddha's acute 
reasoning powers. To a certain extent it may be admitted 
that the new system of examinations introduced by the 
Emperor had led, at the outset, to abuses which were absent 
under the old classical system, where the anonymity of 

235 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

candidates was a cardinal principle. Her Majesty dealt with 
the question as follows : — 

" The ancient system whereby our Dynasty has selected 
the scholars at public examinations by means of essays taken 
from the Four Books, is based on the principle that the 
foundation of all education lies in expounding the fundamen- 
tal doctrines of our national Sages and the Standard Com- 
mentaries on the Confucian doctrine. For over two 
centuries this system has worked most satisfactorily, and it 
is only quite lately that certain meretricious tendencies have 
sprung up in coimection therewith, and that candidates at 
these examinations have succeeded in obtaining degrees by 
the use of parrot-like repetitions and empty catch-words. 
The fault has been wrongly attributed to the system ; it is 
in reality due to incapable examiners, who have allowed these 
abuses to creep in. Critics have failed to realise the truth 
in this matter, and have allowed themselves to abuse the 
system, going as far as to assert that the classical subjects 
in themselves are of no practical value. They forget that 
the classical essays set at these examinations are merely a 
first stage, a test for entrance upon an official career, and 
that, if the candidate is really a man of ability, the fact that 
he has been made to compose verses in accordance with the 
time-honoured methods of the T'ang and Sung dynasties will 
never prevent him from making his way in the world. But 
should he be a man in whom there exists already a tendency 
towards rash and unorthodox principles, it may safely be said 
that to set him essays on subjects of contemporary interest 
for the purposes of this examination would only serve to 
aggravate the evil and further to demoralise his nature. For 
these reasons, therefore, I now definitely decree that, for the 
future, the old system shall be restored, and that public 
examinations shall henceforward consist of themes and 
extracts from the Classics. A special examination for 
students of political economy, lately authorised, has been 
shown to be productive of evil, and is therefore abolished. 
It is the wish of the Throne that these public examinations 
shall be in reality a sound test of merit. Examiners and can- 
didates alike should avoid meretricious adornments of style, 

236 



TZU HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

and endeavour to conform strictly to the classical models. 
We desire, of course, that studies of a practical nature should 
be continued, but these had best be conducted under the 
guidance of local officials. It is certainly desirable that agri- 
culture, and the promotion of industrial and commercial 
enterprises, should be placed on a more effective basis of 
organisation, but owing to difficulties of inter-communication 
and voluminous correspondence, it is inadvisable that these 
matters should be centralised at Peking. Let Bureaux be 
established at the various provincial capitals, and let a begin- 
ning be made at Tientsin, as a test case and an example for 
the rest of the Empire. The Peking Bureau is hereby 
abolished." 

Souvent femme varie, and the mind of Tzu Hsi never ran 
consistently for long in the same groove. Anxious always 
as to her popularity with all parties in the State, and 
with a view to adjusting that nice equilibrium of conflicting 
forces which constituted the pride of her statecraft and the 
strength of her rule, we find her next issuing a Decree which 
set forth the principles by which she professed to be guided. 
This Decree reflects a certain amount of anxiety and a doubt 
as to whether the punishment inflicted on the leading 
reformers might not be severely criticised by the outside 
world. Her Majesty therefore decrees : — 

"From times of remote antiquity it has always been 
recognised that the perfect Government is that which is 
based on consistent maintenance of the doctrines of the 
Sages, but, in practice, the exigencies of any particular crisis 
must always justify modification of these principles, so that 
there can be no such thing as final and absolute adherence to 
any particular principle or method. Recently there have 
been introduced certain energetic measures of reform 
intended to put an end to the many and increasing abuses 
which admittedly exist all over the Empire ; but certain 
evil-disposed persons have made these reforms the excuse for 
a revolutionary movement. These we have punished, so 
that the flood of treason and rebellion has been stemmed. 

237 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

This does not mean, however, that we shall fail to initiate 
and enforce all such measures, whether of a liberal or 
conservative nature, as may be necessary in the interest and 
for the welfare of our subjects. Was ever any man deterred 
from eating for fear lest a mouthful should choke him ? 
There can surely be no real misapprehension in the public 
mind in the face of all the Decrees which we have issued on 
this subject, but we regret to note a marked lack of coherent 
opinion on the subject amongst our official advisers, for, 
at the time when these treasonable schemes were rife, we 
received scarcely any Memorials alluding to this national 
danger, and no suggestions for meeting it. It was only 
when the plot had been discovered and suppressed that 
certain attempts were made to acquire merit by those who 
thought they had fathomed the motives which had actuated 
our action. These misguided persons overlooked the 
important fact that it is the public interest, and the 
public interest only, which guides the policy of the Throne 
in matters of administration. The path we pursue is that 
of the just mean, diverging neither to right nor left. Once 
more would we admonish you, our officials throughout 
the Empire, bidding you purify your hearts and get rid, 
once and for all, of these false distinctions between reaction 
and reform. Let your Memorials consider only the needs of 
each day and each case as they come, and cease to submit 
haphazard schemes on the chance of their meeting with our 
personal approval." 

Her Majesty next turned her attention to the necessities 
and distressing condition of her people at large, and ordered 
that measures should once more be taken to prevent the 
constant destruction of life and property by the Yellow 
River in Shantung Province. She was under no delusion as 
to the nature of the measures taken in the part to remedy 
*' China's Sorrow " which, from time immemorial has been 
the happy hunting ground of peculating officialdom ; nor 
could she expect that her stereotyped exhortations to virtue 
in this matter would affi3rd her subjects any particular 
gratification. Her Majesty alluded to the fact that 

238 



TZtJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

" frequent repairs to the banks of the Yellow River had not 
appeared to produce any permanent results," but the remedy 
which she applied, viz., a consultation between the Grand 
Council and the various Ministries with the Censorate, was 
not very reassuring. Nor was her subsequent decision to 
send Li Hung-chang, to estimate on the spot the sum 
required for the construction of effective river conservancy 
works, calculated to convince the public of the sincerity of 
her benevolent intentions. 

As in the days immediately following her first assumption 
of power after the overthrow of the Tsai Yiian conspiracy in 
1861, the Empress Dowager at this period displayed 
remarkable activity in every direction, as is shown by the 
number of her Decrees at this period. After dealing with 
the Yellow River, she turned her attention to another 
permanent and crying evil, which for centuries has weighed 
heavily upon the lower classes of the Chinese people, viz., the 
interminable delay and heavy cost of legal proceedings and 
the hardships thus inflicted on all who may be compelled to 
seek justice at the hands of Chinese officials. 

Her Majesty, in her Edict on the subject, showed a very 
close knowledge of the abuses with which, indeed, all 
Chinese are fully acquainted, but which official documents 
usually ignore. It is no doubt largely to her frankness in 
cases of this kind that the Old Buddha's widespread reputa- 
tion for good nature and tender-heartedness may be ascribed. 
Throughout the country, but especially in the north, it has 
always been the opinion of the peasantry and of the 
merchant class, that the Old Buddha was, if anything, too 
tender-hearted, and that her extreme mildness of disposition, 
though no doubt laudable, was on many occasions a source 
of danger. To her untimely " benevolence " the populace in 
Peking in 1900 undoubtedly ascribed the fact that the 
foreigners and native Christians were not massacred en masse 
before the arrival of the relief expedition. In this Decree 
on the subject of lawsuits. Her Majesty states that she has 

239 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

recently learned that legal proceedings are frequently hung 
up for several months at a time, and that innocent persons 
have been detained in custody for indefinite periods pending 
enquiry. 

" Every sort of extortion is apparently practised in these 
courts, and their gaolers dehberately obstruct the hearing of 
cases unless they are heavily bribed. But if one member of 
a family is thrown into prison, it is evident that his whole 
household must suffer. Who would willingly enter upon 
legal proceedings, unless suffering from injustice too grievous 
to be borne, when the myrmidons of the law are able thus 
to ill-treat claimants ? At the root of the whole evil lies the 
fact that the magistrates wilfully delay their business, being 
deaf to the needs of the people. From our hearts we pity 
them, and we now decree that regulations shall at once be 
drawn up for the expediting of outstanding cases. Any 
delay in this matter will involve heavy penalties." 

Again, another Edict thus reflects the benevolence of the 
" Divine Mother " and her desire to conciUate public 
opinion : — 

" In the majority of recent cases of summary executions 
in the provinces, the culprits have been guilty of robbery 
under arms. However heinous the offences of such criminals, 
they really deserve our sincere pity, The excuse generally 
given for their folly is that they have been forced into crime 
by starvation ; under such conditions men are apt to forget 
that their evil acts will bring upon them the death penalty. 
These criminals are hardy men and resolute ; if they could 
only be turned from their evil ways to service in our Army 
or to agriculture, they might become good citizens : how 
preferable such a result to seeing them cast into prison and 
finally dismembered ? Apart from this consideration, the 
crimes which they commit involve their parents and famihes, 
a thought sufficient in itself to disturb their conscience for 
ever. Here, in the remote seclusion of our Palace, we think ■ 
only of our people's welfare, and we long for the time when 
virtue may prevail and punishment become a thing of the 
past. We therefore now implore you, our children, to 

240 



TZtJ HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

remember how real is our sympathy in all your troubles ; 
strive then to be virtuous citizens, and cease from acts of 
violence which only bring trouble and misery in their train. 
Let this our Decree be made known to the most remote 
districts of our Empire, so that all may be aware of our 
solicitude and tender regard for our people." 

The Empress Dowager was much incensed at the sympathy 
for the Emperor shown by foreigners both in China and 
abroad, a sympathy which was reflected for a time in the 
attitude of the British Minister and other members of the 
Diplomatic Body at Peking. Adopting, however, that 
policy of " conciliation pending a fitting opportunity for 
hostilities," which (as will be seen in another place) she had 
learned from study of the classics, she invited the wives of 
the foreign Ministers and other Legation ladies to an 
audience in the Palace at the beginning of the winter, and 
treated them with such courtesy and consideration that she 
won their hearts in a day. That her friendliness was entirely 
assumed, we have learned from her own statements, and there 
is no doubt that, from this time forward, she came more and 
more under the influence of the chief reactionary Kang Yi, 
who, during the absence of Jung Lu on leave, was able to 
persuade her that the first essential towards improving the 
country's military resources was the organisation of bands of 
militia throughout the Empire. By missionaries who were 
close observers of events in Shantung and other head-quarters 
of this patriotic movement, it was soon realised that this 
military activity was directed primarily against foreigners, 
and owed its origin in the first instance to the Empress 
Dowager's approval of Kang Yi's policy of violent reaction. 

The following Decree, promulgated towards the close of 
the year may, in a certain sense, be regarded as the begin- 
ning and the charter of the Boxer Movement ; it was 
undoubtedly inspired by Kang Yi and his party. 

" There has never been a time when the relations between 
Sovereign and people could safely dispense with a good 

241 R 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

understanding and certain general common objects. It is of 
course for the local Magistrates to initiate measures in all 
questions of local importance, but no successful national 
policy can be maintained unless the gentry and the lower 
classes co-operate with the Government. If we consider, for 
example, the question of food-supply reserves, the organisa- 
tion of police, the drilling of militia or train-bands, and so 
forth : they may seem very ordinary matters, but if they are 
efficiently handled they may be made of the very greatest 
value to the nation ; for by making due provision against 
famine, the people's lives are protected, and similarly, by the 
organisation of local police, protection is afforded against 
bandits. As to the train-bands, they only require to under- 
go regular training for a sufficient period to enable us to 
attain to the position of a nation in arms. At any crisis in 
our country's affairs their services would then be available 
and invaluable. 

" We therefore decree that a beginning be now made in 
the Provinces of Chihli, Mukden, and Shantung, where all 
the local authorities must admonish the gentry and common 
people, so that these measures may be carried out with the 
utmost energy. Where any organisation already exists for 
the purposes mentioned, it need only be remodelled, and 
brought into line with the general system. Let steps be 
taken first at the provincial capitals, and extended thence 
throughout the Provinces. Eventually it is our intention 
that the system adopted shall be enforced throughout the 
Empire, on the basis of the new regulations adopted in these 
three Provinces." 



The rest of the Decree consists of the usual exhortations 
and warnings, and is of no particular interest. It is not 
certain from this document that the Empress herself under- 
stood clearly the forces that were about to be let loose in 
these so-called military train-bands, and her subsequent 
vacillation in regard to the Boxers would seem to afford 
an indication, if not proof, that she acted impulsively and 
without full knowledge, under the influence of Kang Yi. But 
the question rapidly increased in importance, so that a few 

242 



TZU HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

days later we find Her Majesty issuing a second Decree, 
which shows that the potential power of the train-bands as a 
national force was gradually impressing itself upon her mind, 
where, as we know, the hope of revenge on foreigners was ever 
latent. In this second Decree occurs the following passage : — 

"Recent events have caused me the greatest grief and 
anxiety ; by day and by night, in the seclusion of my Palace, 
my thoughts dwell on these matters, and my one object is 
now to secure the tranquillity and prosperity of my subjects 
by the organisation of adequate military forces. My purposes, 
set forth in numerous Decrees, regarding the organisation of 
a strong army, the improvement of communications, and the 
formation of train-bands and militia, aim all at strengthening 
the Empire and promoting the contentment of my people." 

After reiterating the substance of former Decrees, Her 
Majesty proceeds pathetically to complain " that they have 
to a large extent been ignored, or merely transmitted by 
one provincial authority to another, descending from the 
Governor to the District Magistrate through the usual routine 
channels, and eventually pigeon-holed as so much waste 
paper." She admits frankly that this method of treating 
Imperial Decrees is quite usual, and that it has the sanction 
of tradition, but she insists that the time has come for a 
change, and therefore now directs that all her Decrees are in 
future to be printed on special Imperial yellow paper, and 
their contents made known throughout the length and 
breadth of the Empire. 

After further earnest exhortations to patriotism, and to 
that keen sense of duty which alone can develop efficiency 
in the public service, she directs that the local officials 
should keep closer touch with the gentry and the elders of 
the people, and that officers in command of military forces 
are to explain clearly to the rank and file the objects 
which Her Majesty has in view in deciding upon military 
organisation. 

The Decree concludes with the following words : — 

243 r2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" If in times of peace my people are prepared to face all 
possible dangers, and to put away from them selfish and 
ignoble ease, they will find that, when the hour ot trial 
comes, their common resolution is in very truth a tower of 
strength, which shall not fail to bring about its due reward. 
By this means shall the foundations of our Empire be 
strengthened, and its prestige increased, and thus shall my 
purposes be fulfilled, for which I have issued to you this 
solemn admonition." 

This Decree was followed by another, in the classical 
manner, exhorting the troops to practise patriotism, which 
calls for no especial notice, and certainly produced no more 
conspicuous effect than her repeated warnings to the provincial 
Mandarins and her appeals for more energy and intelligence 
in the public service. Certain writers have pointed to the 
numerous and plain-spoken Decrees issued by Tzii Hsi 
at this period, as proof that her heart was really set upon 
effectively reforming the country's administration, but it 
is always difficult for foreigners, and even for Chinese 
outside the Palace, to form any concise idea as to the 
inner meaning of these lucubrations, and how much of them 
was, on any particular occasion, to be taken as something 
outside of the traditional and stereotyped utterances of the 
Throne. It is certain that she herself failed to exercise the 
personal influence and example that would have convinced 
the world of her sincerity, and that she did nothing to put 
her house of the Forbidden City in order or to do away with 
the manifest and notorious abuses at her Court. 

The Old Buddha concluded this remarkable display of 
literary and political activity by returning once more to the 
grievance which rankled most deeply, viz., that the chief 
conspirator against her sacred authority and person had 
made good his escape. Professing to believe that the 
heinousness of K'ang Yu wei's crimes was not fully realised 
by her people, she issued another Decree on the subject, in 
December, as follows : — 

244 



TZtj HSI RESUMES THE REGENCY (1898) 

" T'an Chung-lin, Viceroy of Canton, has memorialised 
stating that he has brought to Hght, by searches at K'ang 
Yu-wei's birthplace, a large quantity of documents, chiefly 
correspondence between the members of K'ang's party, 
together with certain seals, made of stone ; all of which he 
has forwarded for our personal inspection. These letters 
contain a mass of treasonable matter. In one place the 
suggestion is actually made that T'an Ssu-t'ung (one of the 
reformers executed) should be nominated as President of 
the Chinese Republic ! The writers ignore the present 
Dynasty even in dating their correspondence, and use instead 
a chronology which begins with the birth of Confucius ; 
one of them has actually had the unbounded audacity to 
describe the present Dynasty as ' perfectly useless.' 
Abominable wickedness of this kind shows that these men 
were something worse than ordinary rebels and parricides. 
Their correspondence implicates an enormous number of 
persons, but, as the Throne desires to show mercy and to 
refrain from any further enquiry into this matter, the whole 
correspondence has now been burnt by our orders. 

" When first we stated in our Decrees the nature of the 
treasonable conspiracy that K'ang Yu-wei had organised and 
of his revolutionary programme, it was our object to nip 
rebellion in the bud. But it would appear, from information 
which has reached us, that certain misinformed people still 
hold to the opinion and express it, that K'ang Yu-wei was 
nothing worse than an over-zealous reformer. We mention 
therefore this matter of the correspondence of these traitors, 
as proving beyond possibility of doubt that K'ang Yu-wei 
was indeed a base and unnatural malefactor, and we feel 
convinced that our loyal subjects, from the highest to the 
lowest, realising this truth, will now relegate his revo- 
lutionary utterances to their proper position of insignificance. 
Thus shall right principles triumph and the wrong be 
wiped out." 

Thus was Tzii Hsi established in her pride of place and 
thus were sown the seeds of that great upheaval which was 
soon to shake the Empire to its foundations. 



245 



XVI 
THE GENESIS OF THE BOXER MOVEMENT 

The history of the Boxers has been so fully written, and 
so many excellent accounts given of the origins and 
contributing factors of the movement, that any further 
reference to the matter may seem superfluous. Nevertheless, 
the following extracts from a letter addressed by Jung Lu 
to his friend Hsii Ying-kuei, the Viceroy of Fukien, may 
throw some new light, not only on the causes of the growth 
of the movement in Chihli but also on the character, private 
opinions and political methods of the Empress Dowager's 
favourite and trusted adviser. It was written in the early 
part of July 1900. 

"The Boxers started in eighteen villages of the Kuan 
district of Shantung and they were originally called the 
' Plum Blossom Fists.' When Li Ping-heng was Governor 
of the Province (1895) he did not forbid their proceedings, 
but, on the contrary, proceeded to enrol them as Militia. 
Last summer there were several conflicts between these 
Boxers and the Imperial troops, but the Military commander 
was cashiered by order of the Governor for his action and all 
the Boxer prisoners were released. Their leader at this time 
openly described himself as a descendant of the Ming 
Emperors and the female branch of his society called ' Red 
Lamp Light ' was named after him. Last autumn, thus 
encouraged, the movement spread into Chihli. The 
magistrate at Chingchou put out a proclamation warning 
the people not to believe in their so-called magic arts ; he 

246 



THE GENESIS OF THE BOXER MOVEMENT 

said these Boxers were only the ' White Lily Sect ' under 
another name. This magistrate was a good friend to the 
French missionaries, and the Viceroy, hearing of the 
incident, enquired into the matter and promptly had him 
dismissed. This caused me great regret, for both Wang 
Wen-shao and I had known the man well, when we held the 
Chihli Viceroyalty, and respected him. 

"At the end of the 9th Moon of last year there were 
Boxers openly displaying huge banners in Chihli, on which 
was written, ' The Gods assist us to destroy all foreigners ; 
we invite you to join the patriotic Militia.' At one place 
a Buddhist abbot was the head of the Society and he led on 
the mob, burning the Christian chapel there. Subsequently, 
while they were burning converts' houses at Liupa, the 
magistrate came out and attacked them with his troops. 
The soldiers opened fire and the Boxers retreated, but their 
priest leaders were captured, and some thirty or forty were 
shot dead. This ought to have demonstrated to the people 
at large how nonsensical were the stories about the invulner- 
ability of these mountebanks : our soldiers dealt with them 
as easily as if they had been trussing chickens ! There were 
charms and forms of incantation found on the persons of the 
priests who, after an examination by the magistrate, were 
summarily executed. 

"The provincial treasurer, T'ing Yung,^ was largely 
responsible for the beginning of the trouble. I hear that 
about ten days ago he sent for all his subordinates to attend 
at his Yamen, and the Prefect of Hslianhua,^ who was 
passing through, came to pay his respects with the others. 
This man said, ' in the reign of Chia Ch'ing there were 
heterodox cults of this kind, and the Emperor ordered them 
to be suppressed.' T'ing Yung replied, ' circumstances alter 
cases. Why should you now refer to those days ? ' The 
Prefect answered him, ' It is quite true that the calendar is no 
longer the same as it was at that time, but the enlightened 
principles laid down by our sacred ancestors should be a 

1 This official was eventually decapitated by the allies, as one of the 
originators of the Boxer rising. 

'^ This Prefect of Hsiianhua was subsequently promoted by the Empress 
Dowager^ when passing through that city, at the beginning of the flight 
from Peking. 

247 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

guidance to us for ever.' T'ing had of course nothing to 
say, and could only glare at him in silence and change the 
conversation. 

" When first I read Her Majesty's decree of the 21st June 
in which she orders us to form train-bands of these brave 
Boxers, describing them as patriots of whom large numbers 
are to be found, and should be enrolled, in every province, I 
lay awake all the next night thinking over this matter. 
Unable to sleep, more than once I sprang from my bed rest- 
less and excited with mixed feelings of joy and fear. The 
idea of enlisting these patriotic volunteers to repel the 
aggression of the foreigner is undoubtedly a good one, and, 
if carefully worked out and directed by firm discipline and 
good leadership, it might no doubt be of the very highest 
utility. But if otherwise handled, these men will inevitably 
get out of hand, and the only result will be chaos and disaster. 
You will, no doubt, agree with me, my old friend and 
colleague, that the motive which inspires these Boxers is a 
patriotic one. So great is the ill-feeling that exists between 
the mass of our people and the converts to Christianity that 
we have been unavoidably dragged to the very verge of 
hostilities, and our Government has embarked upon a des- 
perate course 'of inviting the enemy to meet us in battle 
before the walls of our capital.' It is as if we were treading 
on naked swords without flinching ; there can be no question 
as to the enthusiasm and ardour in our cause. 

" But, at the beginning of the movement, these Boxers 
were afraid to come together in large numbers lest the 
Imperial troops should attack and destroy them ; from this 
alone we may reasonably infer that they are not devoid of 
the common instinct of fear. By themselves they cannot 
be fully trusted, but it seems to me (though you may con- 
sider the idea absurd) that one might profitably use them to 
inspire, by their fanaticism, the martial ardour of our regular 
troops. As a fighting force they are absolutely useless, but 
their claims to supernatural arts and magic might possibly be 
valuable for the purpose of disheartening the enemy. But it 
would be quite wrong, not to say fatal, for us to attach any 
real belief to their ridiculous claims, or to regard them as of 
any real use in action. Even if there were any truth in 

248 



THE GENESIS OF THE BOXER MOVEMENT 

these tales of magic they must necessarily be founded in 
heresy, and you know full well that Chinese history records 
numerous instances of such superstitious beliefs ending in 
rebellions against the reigning Dynasty. You recently tele- 
graphed me advising me not to be unduly anxious, because 
in your opinion the Boxers acquitted themselves exceedingly 
well in the fights at Tientsin and Taku on the 20th June. I 
am not so sure of this myself; in any case it is well to 
bear in mind that there is a very great difference between 
the fighting capacity and temperament of the natives of the 
north and south of China. ^ All the southern provinces are 
teeming with secret and revolutionary societies, salt smugglers, 
and other kinds of desperadoes ; so much tinder, which any 
spark may kindle into flames of disturbance at any moment. 
These southern people are gamblers and disorderly characters 
by profession, but they are certainly not animated by any 
patriotic instinct, and if you were to enlist any large number 
of them as a military force, it would be just like organising 
bands of jackals and wolves to fight tigers. The result would 
be that while none of the tigers would be destroyed, millions 
of your own people, who may be likened to sheep, would 
suffer miserably. On the other hand these northern Boxers 
are not inspired by any lust of plunder, but by a species of 
religious frenzy. Now, as you know, northerners are duU 
and obstinate by nature, while the southerners are alert but 
unreliable, so that it is difficult, if not impossible, to arrive 
at any fixed policy or joint action in dealing with them 
together. Was it not because of this characteristic of the 
southerners that the Grand Council was so indignant in 
1894, when, in fighting against the Japanese, our men feared 
them worse than tigers, and, recognising their own hopeless 
inferiority, threw down their weapons and would not face the 
enemy ? 

" These Boxers are not trained troops, but they are ready 
to fight, and to face death. It is indeed a very gratifying 
surprise to see any of our people display courage, and to 
witness their enthusiasm for paying off old scores against the 
foreigner ; but if, inspired by the sight of these brave fellows, 

1 Hsii, to whom Jung Lu was writing, was a Cantonese by birth, and was 
at this time Viceroy of Fooehow. 

249 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

we imagine for a moment that the whole Empire is going to 
follow their example, and that we shall thus be enabled to 
rid ourselves of the accursed presence of the foreigner, we are 
very much mistaken, and the attempt is foredoomed. My 
advice therefore to your Excellency, is not to hesitate 
in disobeying the Edict which commanded you to raise these 
train-bands. I do not hesitate to give you this advice and to 
assure you that you run no risks in following it. You should, 
of course, act with great discretion, but the main thing is to 
prevent the Throne's Decree becoming an excuse for the 
banding together of disorderly characters. 1 write this 
private letter under stress of much natural apprehension, and 
you will therefore pray forgive the haste and confusion 
of its contents, and I trust that you will favour me in due 
course with your reply. 

(Signed) JungLu. 



250 



XVII 

THE DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY 
CHING SHAN 

[Note. — Ching Shan, a Manchu of the Plain Yellow Banner Corps, was 
born in 1823. In 1863 he became a Metropolitan Graduate and Hanlin 
Compiler, especially distinguished as a scholar in Sung philosophy. In the 
following year he was appointed a Junior Secretary of the Imperial House- 
hold (Nei wu fu), rising to Senior Secretary in 1869 and Comptroller in 
1879- His father, Kuang Shun, had held the post of Comptroller-General 
under the Emperor Tao-Kuang, with whom he was for years on terms of 
intimacy ; he was a kinsman of the Empress Dowager's family and in close 
touch with all the leading Manchu nobles. Ching Shan had therefore 
exceptional opportunities of knowing all the gossip of the Court, of learning 
the opinions and watching the movements of the high officials, Chinese and 
Manchu, who stood nearest to the Throne. After holding office in several 
of the Metropolitan Boards, he retired in 1894-. He was tutor to Prince 
Tuan, Duke Tsai Lan, and other sons of Prince Tun (younger son of the 
Emperor Tao-Kuang), and therefore intimately associated with the leaders 
of the Boxer movement. 

Seen even against the lurid background of the abomination of desolation 
which overtook Peking in August 1900, Ching Shan's fate was unusually 
tragic. Above the storm and stress of battle and sudden death, of dangers 
from Boxers, wild Kansuh soldiery and barbarian invaders, the old scholar's 
domestic griefs, the quarrels of his women folk, his son's unfilial behaviour, 
strike a more poignant note than any of his country's fast pressing mis- 
fortunes. And with good cause. On the 1 5th August, after the entry of 
the allied forces into Peking and the flight of the Empress Dowager, his 
wife, his senior concubine, and one of his daughters-in-law committed 
suicide. He survived them but a few hours, meeting death at the hands of 
his eldest son. En Ch'un, who pushed him down a well in his own courtyard. 
This son was subsequently shot by Bi'itish ti'oops for harbouring armed 
Boxers. 

251 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

The Diary was found by the translator in the private study of Ching 
Shan's house on August 18th and saved, in the nick of time, from being 
burnt by a party of Sikhs. Many of the entries, which cover the period 
from January to August 1900, refer to trivial and uninteresting matters. 
The following passages are selected chiefly because of the light they throw 
on the part played by the Empress Dowager in that tragedy of midsummer 
madness — on the strong hand and statecraft of the woman, and on the 
unfathomable ignorance which characterises to-day the degenerate de- 
scendants of Nurhachu. It should be explained that Ching Shan (^ w)» 
who retired from office in 1894, must be distinguished from Ching Hsin 
(^r ^^)} who died about 1904. The latter was also a Manchu and a 
favourite of Tzu Hsi, well known to foreigners at the capital. He held 
various high posts, i*ose to be a Grand Secretary, and remained in Peking 
after the flight of the Court, in charge of the Palace. It was he who 
escorted the Diplomatic Body through the deserted halls of the Forbidden 
City in September 1 900. He was highly respected by all who knew him. 

Ching Shan, though of similarly high rank, was personally quite unknown 
to foreigners, but a short note on his career (and another on that of Ching 
Hsin) will be found in the " List of the Higher Metropolitan and provincial 
officials " periodically compiled by the Chinese Secretariat of the British 
Legation ; Edition of 1902, Kelly and Walsh, Shanghai.] 

25th Year of Kuang Hsii, 12th Moon, 25th Day (25th 
January, 1900). — Duke Tsai Lan came to see me, his old 
tutor, to-day. He has much to tell me concerning the 
"Patriotic Harmony" train-bands (I Ho Tuan) which have 
been raised in Shantung by Yii Hsien, the Governor. Later, 
he described yesterday's audience at the Palace ; in addition 
to the Grand Secretaries, the Presidents of Boards and the 
Ministers of the Household, the " Sacred Mother " received 
Prince Kung, his uncles Tsai Ying and Tsai Lien and 
Prince Tuan. The Old Buddha announced her intention of 
selecting a new Emperor. She said : " The nation has 
shown resentment and reproached me for putting Kuang 
Hsii on the Throne, he being of the wrong generation ; 
furthermore, he himself has shown great lack of filial duty to 
me notwithstanding the debt of gratitude he owed me for 
my kindness in thus elevating him. Has he not plotted 
against me with traitors from the south ? I now propose 
therefore to depose him and to place a new Emperor on the 

252 




The "Beileh" Tsai Ying, Son of Prince Kung (Cashiered by Tzu Hsi for 
pro-Boxer Proclivities), and his Son. 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

Throne, whose accession shall take place on the first day of 
the New Year. It should be for you Ministers now to 
consider what title should be given to Kuang Hsu upon his 
abdication. There is a precedent for his removal from the 
Throne in the case of the Emperor Ching T'ai of the Ming 
Dynasty who was reduced to the rank of Prince and whose 
brother was restored to the Throne after eight years of 
captivity among the Mongols." There was dead silence for 
some time in the Hall of Audience. At last the Grand 
Secretary Hsii T'ung suggested as appropriate the title of 
" Hun-te-Kung," which means, " The Duke of Confused 
Virtue " — or well-meaning bungler : — it had been given by 
the Mongol Dynasty to a deposed Sung Emperor. The 
Old Buddha approved. She then declared to the assembly 
that her choice of the new Emperor was already made ; it 
had fallen upon the eldest son of Prince Tuan, whose great 
devotion to Her Majesty's person was well known. Hence- 
forward Prince Tuan snould be in constant attendance at the 
Palace to supervise the education of his son. At this point 
the Grand Secretary Sun Chia-nai^ craved permission to 
speak. He implored the Empress not to depose the 
Emperor ; of a certainty there would be rebellion in the 
Southern provinces. The choice of a new Sovereign rested 
with her, but it could only be done after " ten thousand years 
had elapsed " {i.e., after the death of the present Emperor). 
The " Motherly Countenance " showed great wrath ; turning 
on Sun Chia-nai, she bade him remember that this was a 
family council to which she only admitted Chinese as an act 
of grace. She had already notified the Emperor of her 
intention, and he had no objections to offer. The Empress 
then ordered all present to repair to the Hall of Diligent 
Government there to await her and the Emperor, and upon 
their coming to witness the draft of the Decree appointing 
the Heir Apparent. The formal announcement of his 

1 A note on the career and character of this courageous official is given 
in the Appendix. 

253 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

accession to the throne would be postponed until the first day 
of the New Year. 

They proceeded therefore to the entrance of the appointed 
Hall, and in a few minutes the Empress's chair appeared at 
the gateway, when all knelt and kowtowed three times. A 
number of eunuchs accompanied her, but she bade them 
remain without. She sent Major-domo Li Lien-ying to 
request the Emperor's presence ; he came in his chair, 
alighting at the outer gate and kowtowed to the Empress, 
who had taken her seat on the main throne within. She 
beckoned him to come to the Hall, and he knelt again, all 
officials still kneeling outside. " Chin lai, pu yung Jcuei 
hsia" (Come in, you need not kneel), called Her Majesty. 
She bade him sit down, and summoned next the princes and 
ministers — some thirty in all — to enter. Again the Old 
Buddha repeated her reasons for the step she was taking. 
The Emperor only said "What Your Majesty suggests 
is quite proper and in accordance with my views." At this 
the Grand Secretary Jung Lu handed to the Empress the 
Decree which the Grand Council had drafted.^ She read 
it through and forthwith ordered its promulgation. Nothing 
was said to " The Lord of Ten Thousand Years " as to his 
being deposed ; only the selection ^of the Heir Apparent 
was discussed. The Grand Council then remained for 
further audience, but the Princes were ordered to withdraw, 
so that Duke Lan does not know what passed thereafter. 
The Emperor seemed dazed, as one in a dream. 

30th Day (30th January, 1900). — To-day Liu Shun shaved 
my head ; he leaves to-night for his home at Pao-ti-hsien 
there to spend the new year. My eldest son. En Ch'u, 
is pressing me to give him fifty taels to buy an ermine cloak ; 
he is a bad son and most undutiful. Chi Shou-ch'ing came 
to see me to-day ; he has moved to " Kuai Pang " Lane. 
He tells me that his father-in-law, Yii Hsien, is to be made 

1 The Decree is given at the end of this chapter. 
254 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

Governor of Shansi. The Old Buddha has received him in 
audience since his removal from the Governorship of 
Shantung on account of the murder of a French ^ 
missionary, and praised him for the honesty and justice 
of his administration. She does not approve of the Big 
Sword Society's proposed extermination of foreigners, 
because she does not believe they can do it ; Yil Hsien goes 
often to Prince Tuan's palace, and they have many secret 
interviews. Prince Tuan declares that if he were made 
President of the Tsung-li Yamen he would make short 
work of all difficulties with foreigners. He is a violent man 
and lacking in refinement. 

1st Day of 2Qth Year of Kuang Hsil (31st January, 
1900). — To-day I am 78 years of age and my children mock 
me for being deaf. They are bad sons and will never rise so 
high as their father has done. When I was their age, 
between 20 and 30, the Emperor Tao- Kuang had already 
praised my scholarship and presented me with a compli- 
mentary scroll bearing a quotation from the writings of the 
philosopher Chu. 

This year will witness many strange events ; the people 
all say so. The eighth month is intercalary which, in a year 
that has " Keng " for its cyclical character, has ever been an 
evil omen. The New Emperor was to have been 
proclaimed to-day under the title of " Heng-Ching " — all 
pervading prosperity — but my son En Lin tells me that the 
new year sacrifices were performed by the Ta-A-Ko (heir 
apparent) at the Palace of Imperial Longevity, acting only 
as Deputy for the Emperor Kuang Hsii. The Ta-A-Ko is a 
boy of fourteen ; very intelligent, but violent-tempered. He 
walked on foot to the Palace Hall from the Coal Hill Gate. 

bth Moon, 5th Day : The Dragon Festival (1st June, 1900).^ 
— Arose at six o'clock and was washing my face in the small 

^ The victim was British, not French — viz., the Rev. Mr. Brooks, killed on 
31st December, 1899, just after Yu Hsien's removal had been arranged. 
2 Between January and June the entries are of no particular interest. 

255 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

inner room, when Huo Kuei, the gatekeeper, came in with 
the card of Kang Yi, the Grand Secretary, and a present of 
ten pounds of pork, with seasonable greetings. I was not 
aware that he had already returned from his journey to Chu 
Chou, whither he had gone with Chao Shu-ch'iao to examine 
and report on the doings of the "patriotic train bands " {i.e. 
Boxers). He sends word by the messenger that he will call 
upon me this morning. 

My sons En Ch'u and En Shun are going to-day to a 
theatrical performance at Chi Shou-ch'eng's residence. My 
youngest son. En Ming, is on duty at the Summer Palace, 
where, for the next four days, the Old Buddha will be 
having theatricals. I am surprised that Kang Yi is not out 
there also. No doubt he only returned to Peking last 
night, and so does not resume his place on the Council till 
to-morrow morning. 

The Hour of the Monkey (3 p.m.). — Kang Yi has been here 
and I persuaded him to stay for the mid-day meal. He is a 
worthy brother-in-law, and, though twenty years younger 
than I am, as wise and discreet a man as any on the Grand 
Council. He tells me that several hundred foreign devil 
troops entered the City yesterday evening. He and Chao 
Shu-ch'iao arrived at Peking at 4.30 p.m., and immediately 
set to composing their memorial to the Empress Dowager 
about the heaven-sent Boxers, for presentation to-morrow 
morning. Prince Tuan has five days' leave of absence : 
Kang Yi went to see him yesterday evening. While they 
were discussing the situation, at the Prince's own house, 
there came a Captain of Prince Ch'ing's bodyguard with a 
message. Saluting Prince Tuan, he announced that about 
300 foreign soldiers had left Tientsin in the afternoon 
as reinforcement for the Legation Guards. Prince Ch'ing 
implored Prince Tuan not to oppose their entry, on the 
ground that a few hundred foreigners, more or less, could 
make no difference. He trusted that Prince Tuan would 
give orders to his Corps (the " Celestial Tigers " Force) not 

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DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

to oppose the foreign devils. It was the wish of the Old 
Buddha that they should be permitted to guard the 
Legations. Prince Tuan asked for further details, and the 
Captain said that Prince Ch'ing had received a telegram 
from the Governor-General of Chihli (Yli Lu) to the effect 
that the detachment carried no guns. At this Prince Tuan 
laughed scornfully and said " How can the few resist the 
many ? What indeed will a hundred puny hobgoblins, 
more or less, matter ? " Kang Yi, on the contrary, tells me 
that he strongly urged Prince Tuan to issue orders to 
Chung Li, the Commandant of the city, to oppose the entry 
of the foreign troops, but it appears that Jung Lu had 
already ordered their admission. Kang Yi is much incensed 
with Jung Lu about this, and cannot understand his 
motives. It seems that towards the close of last year 
Prince Tuan and Jung Lu had agreed to depose the 
Emperor and to put the Heir Apparent on the Throne, and 
Tuan confesses that, were it not for Jung Lu's great influence 
with the Old Buddha she would never have agreed to select 
his son as Heir Apparent. But now Jung Lu is for ever 
denouncing the Boxers and warning the Empress against 
encouraging and countenancing them. Prince Tuan and 
Kang Yi despair of ever being able to induce her to support 
the Boxers whole-heartedly so long as Jung Lu is against 
them. As an example of her present attitude, Prince Tuan 
told Kang Yi one day lately that his son, the Ta-a-ko, had 
dressed himself up as a Boxer and was going through their 
r^l Z}^^ Summer Palace grounds with some eunuchs. 
1 he Old Buddha saw him and promptly gave orders that 
he be confined to his rooms. She also reprimanded the 
Grand Secretary, Hsu T'ung, for not keeping a better watch 
on his pupil and for permitting such unseemly behaviour, as 
she called it. 

After leaving Prince Tuan's house, Kang Yi had gone out 
of the city by the Ch'ien Men and had seen the foreign troops 
pass in. The people muttered curses, he says, but no one 

257 s 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

molested them. What does it matter ? None of them will 
ever leave the city. Kang Yi's journey to Chu-chou has con- 
vinced him that the whole province stands together as one 
man ; even boys in their teens are drilling. Not a doubt of 
it ; the foreigner will be wiped out this time ! At Chu-chou 
the Departmental Magistrate, a man named Kung, had 
arrested several Boxer leaders, but Kang Yi and Chao Shu- 
ch'iao ordered them to be released and made them go 
through their mystic evolutions and drill. It was a won- 
derful sight, scarcely to be believed ; several of them were 
shot, some more than once, yet rose uninjured from the 
ground. This exhibition took place in the main courtyard 
of the Magistrate's Yamen, in the presence of an enormous 
crowd, tight pressed, as compact as a wall. Chao Shu-ch'iao 
remembers having seen many years ago, in his native province 
of Shensi, a similar performance, and it is on record that 
similar marvels were seen at the close of the Han Dynasty, 
when Chang Chio headed the Yellow Turban insurrection 
against the Government and took many great cities with half 
a million of followers. They were said to be under the pro- 
tection of the Jade Emperor ^ and quite impervious to sword- 
thrusts. Kang Yi and Chao Shu-Ch'iao will memorialise 
the Empress to-morrow, giving the results of their journey 
and begging her to recognise the " patriotic train-bands " 
as a branch of the army. But they should be placed under 
the supreme command of Prince Tuan and Kang Yi, as 
Jung Lu, the Commander-in-Chief of the Northern army, 
is so incredulous as to their efficacy against foreign troops. 

Although Major Domo Li Lien-ying is a warm supporter 
of the Boxers, and never wearies of describing their feats to 
the Old Buddha, feats which he himself has witnessed, it is 
by no means certain that the "kindly Mother" will heed 
him so long as Jung Lu is opposed to any official encourage- 
ment of the movement. And, besides, the nature of the 

^ The Supreme Deity of the Taoists and tutelary spirit of the Boxers. 

258 



BIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

Empress is peace-loving; she has seen many springs and 
autumns. I myself know well her refined and gentle tastes, 
her love of painting, poetry, and the theatre. When in a 
good mood she is the most amiable and tractable of women, 
but at times her rage is awful to witness. My father was 
Comptroller-General of the Imperial Household, and it was 
his lot on one occasion to experience her anger. This was in 
the sixth year of Tung Chih (1868), when she learned that 
the chief eunuch, " Hsiao An'rh," i had been decapitated in 
Shantung by the orders of the Co-Regent, the late " Empress 
Dowager of the East." She accused the Comptrollers of 
the Household of being leagued together in treachery against 
her, as they had not told her of what was going on she 
declared that Prince Kung was plotting against her life, and 
that all her attendants were associated in his treason. It 
was years before she forgave him. All An's fellow-eunuchs 
were examined under torture by the Department responsible 
for the management and discipline of the Household. When 
the chief eunuch's betrayer was discovered by this means, he 
was flogged to death by her orders in the Palace. But 
nowadays the Old Buddha's heart has softened, even towards 
foreigners, and she will not allow any of them to be done 
away with. One word from her would be sufficient to bring 
about their immediate and complete destruction, so that 
neither dog nor fowl be left alive, and no trace be left of all 
their foreign buildings. Kang Yi stayed with me about two 
hours and left to go and see Prince Tuan, who was expecting 
Major Domo Li Lien-ying to come into the city this 
afternoon. 

K'un Hsiu, Vice-President of the Board of Works, called 
to see me. He tells me that Prince Ch'ing habitually 
ridicules the Boxers in private conversation, declaring them 
to be utterly useless, and unworthy of even a smile from a wise 
man. In pubHc, however, he is most cautious— last week 

^ A nickname of An Te-haij vide sui^ra, p. 90 et seq. 

259 S2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

when the Old Buddha asked his opmion of them he repHed 
by vaguely referring to the possible value of train-bands for 
protection of the Empire. 

9 P.M. — My son En Ch'u has returned from Chi Shou- 
ch'eng's theatricals ; everyone was talking, he says, of Jung 
Lu's folly in allowing the foreign troops to enter the city 
yesterday. Chi's father-in-law, Yli Hsien, has written to him 
jprom Shansi saying that for the present there are but few 
Boxers enrolled in that province, but he is doing his best to 
further the movement, so that Shansi may unite with the 
other provinces of the north " to destroy those who have 
aroused the Emperor's wrath." By common report, Yiian 
Shih-k'ai has now become a convert to Christianity : if he too 
were to suppress the movement in Shantung, not death 
itself could expiate his guilt. 

En Chu's wife is most undutiful ; this evening she has had 
a quarrel with my senior concubine, and the two women 
almost came to blows. Women are indeed difficult to 
manage ; as Confucius has said, " Keep them at a distance, 
they resent it ; treat them familiarly, and they do not 
respect you." I am seventy-eight years of age and sore 
troubled by my family ; their misconduct is hard for an old 
man to bear. 

12th Day of the 5th Moon (June 8th, 1900). — My son. En 
Ming, came in this morning about midday ; as Officer of the 
Bodyguard he had been in attendance on the Empress com- 
ing in from the Summer Palace. Jung Lu had been there 
yesterday morning and had had a long audience with Her 
Majesty. He gave her details of the burning of the railway 
by the Boxers. She was seriously alarmed and decided to 
return at once to the Winter Palace on the Southern Lake. 
It seems she cannot make up her mind as to the Boxers' 
invulnerability. Jung Lu has again applied for leave. When 
he is absent from the Grand Council, Kang Yi and Ch'i Hsiu 
have the greatest influence with her. En Ming says that 
on the way to the city she kept urging the chair-bearers to 

260 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

hurry, and seemed out of sorts — nervously fanning herself all 
the time. At the Ying Hsiu gate of the Winter Palace the 
Emperor and the Heir Apparent were kneeling to receive 
her. No sooner had she reached the Palace than she 
summoned Prince Tuan to audience, which lasted a long 
time. It is a pity that the Old Buddha will not decide 
and act more promptly. The Emperor never speaks at 
audience nowadays, although Her Majesty often asks him for 
his opinion. Tung Fu-hsiang accompanied the Court into 
Peking ; he denounced Jung Lu at audience to-day, telling 
the Empress that if only the Legations were attacked, he 
would undertake to demolish them in five days ; but that 
Jung Lu, by failing to support the Boxers, was a traitor to 
the Dynasty. The Empire, said he, would be endangered 
unless the present opportunity were seized to wipe off old 
scores against the foreigner. Tung is a coarse, foul-spoken 
fellow, most violent in his manner towards us Manchus. 
Kang Yi hates him, but for the present is only too willing to 
make use of him. 

IMh day of the 5th Moon (June 10th). — Grand Councillor 
Ch'i Hsiu called to-day — he showed me the draft of a 
Decree breaking off all relations with foreigners, which 
he had prepared for the Empress's signature ; so far, 
however, she has given no indication of agreeing to make 
war against them. In the afternoon I went to Duke Lan's 
residence — to-day being his wife's birthday. There are more 
than a hundred Boxers living in his outer courtyard, most of 
them country-folk, under the command of a Banner Captain 
named Wen Shun. Among them are five or six lads of 
thirteen or fourteen who will fall into a trance, foam at 
the mouth, then rise up and grasp wildly at anything that 
comes within their reach, uttering the while strange uncouth 
noises. Duke Lan believes that by their magic arts they 
will be able to guide him, when the time comes, to the 
houses of Christian converts {lit. Secondary Devils). He 
says that his wife goes often to the Palace and that she has 

261 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

told the Old Buddha of these things. The " Ta Kung Chu " 
(Princess Imperial and adopted daughter of the Empress 
Dowager) has over two huudred and fifty Boxers quartered 
at the Palace outside the Hou Men, but she has not dared to 
tell the Empress Dowager. Her brother, the " Prince " 
Tsai Ying, is also learning this drill. Truly it is a splendid 
society ! The Kansuh braves are now entering the Chinese 
city, and thousands of people are preparing to leave 
Peking. 

16th day of the 5th Moon (June 12th). — Jung Lu attended 
the Grand Council this morning. Prince Li, the Senior 
Councillor, did not dare to tell the Empress that a foreign 
devil ^ had been killed yesterday by the Kansuh braves just 
outside the Yung-Ting Gate. Jung Lu was called to the 
audience chamber after Prince Li had retired, and Kang Yi 
believes that he urged her to order Tung Fu-hsiang to leave 
the city with his troops and at the same time to issue an 
Edict, bestowing posthumous honours on the murdered 
foreigner. None of the other Grand Councillors were 
summoned to audience ; when Jung Lu left the presence, he 
returned straightway to his own house and spake no word to 
any of his colleagues. It is rumoured that more foreign 
troops are coming to Peking, and that the Empress 
Dowager will not permit them to enter the city. In this 
Jung Lu agrees with her. He has advised that all foreigners 
shall be allowed to leave Peking, but that it is contrary 
to the law of nations to attack the accredited representatives 
of foreign Powers. 

ISth Day of the 5th Moon (June 14th). — Yesterday, just 
before nightfall. En Ch'u came in to tell me that several 
hundred Boxers had entered the Ha-Ta Gate. I was sorry 
that my lameness prevented me from going out to see them, 
but I sent Hao Ching-ting to report. Well indeed, is it, 
that I have lived to see this day ; almost every foreign 

1 The Chancellor of the Japanese Legation, Mr. Sugiyaraa. 

262 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

building except the Legations had been burnt to the ground. 
Throughout the night flames burst forth in every quarter of 
the city ; a grand sight ! Kang Yi has sent me a message 
to say that he and Duke Lan went to the Shun Chih 
(S.W.) Gate at about the third watch to encourage and 
direct the Boxers who were burning the French Church. 
Hundreds of converts were burnt to death, men, women and 
children, and so great was the stench of burning flesh that 
Duke Lan and Kang Yi were compelled to hold their noses. 
At dawn Kang Yi went to the Palace to attend the Grand 
Council. Major Domo Li Lien-ying told him that the 
Old Buddha had watched the conflagrations from the 
hillock to the west of the Southern Lake, and had plainly 
seen the destruction of the French Church at the Shun- 
Chih Men. Li Lien-ying had told her that the foreigners 
had first fired on the crowd inside the Ha-Ta Gate, and 
that this had enraged the patriotic braves who had 
retaliated by slaughtering the converts. It seems that Hsli 
T'ung is unable to get out of his house because the foreign 
devils have barricaded the street ; the Old Buddha is 
anxious about him and has commanded Prince Ch'ing to ask 
the foreign Legations to let him pass out. She is amazed at 
the Boxers' courage, and Kang Yi believes that she is about 
to give her consent to a general attack upon the Legations. 
Nevertheless, Li Lien-ying has warned him that exaggerated 
praise of the Boxers arouses her suspicions, and that, with the 
exception of Jung Lu, all the Grand Councillors are afraid 
to advise her. Her Majesty is moving into the Palace of 
Peaceful Longevity in the Forbidden City, as all these 
alarms and excursions disturb her sleep at the Lake Palace. 
21st Day of the 5th Moon (June 17th). — A great fire has 
been raging all to-day in the southern city. Those reckless 
Boxers set fire to a foreign medicine store in the Ta Sha- 
lan'rh, and from this the flames spread rapidly, destroying 
the shops of the wealthy goldsmiths and assayers. Rightly 
says the Canon of History, " When fire rages on the Kun 

263 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Lun ridge, common pebble and precious jade will be 
consumed together." The Boxers themselves are worthy 
men, but there are among them many evil doers whose only 
desire is plunder ; these men, wearing the Boxer uniform, 
bring discredit upon the real " patriotic braves." The outer 
tower of the Ch'ien Men having caught fire, the Empress 
ordered Jung Lu to send Banner troops on to the wall so as 
to prevent any ruffians entering the Tartar City by the Ta 
Ch'ing Gate. 

In the afternoon my married niece came over to see her 
aunt ; she has been greatly alarmed by the uproar and fighting 
near her home, so they are moving to her father-in-law's 
house in the northern city. 

I hear that Prince Tuan has now persuaded the Old 
Buddha to appoint him President of the Tsung Li Yamen ; 
also that she has authorised him to require all foreigners to 
leave Peking, but they are to be protected against any attacks 
by the Boxers. My old friend, Ch'i Hsiu, has been made a 
Minister of the Tsung Li Yamen, also Na T'ung, the Sub- 
Chancellor of the Grand Secretariat. The latter memorialised 
lately advising the Throne to declare war before the foreign 
Powers could send reinforcements ; the Old Buddha has 
placed him in the Tsung Li Yamen to assist Prince Tuan 
and Chi Hsiu in arranging for the foreigners' departure from 
the city. Prince Ch'ing still says nothing for or against the 
Boxers. Jung Lu has offered to escort the foreign Ministers 
half-way to Tientsin, but he stipulates that the Viceroyalty 
of Chihli must be taken from Yii Lu. My wife was taken 
seriously ill this evening ; she kept on muttering incoherently 
and rolling about on the k'ang as if in great pain. We sent 
for Dr. Yung, who applied acupuncture. 

24ith Day of the 5th Moon (June 20th). — Yesterday, at 
mid-day, Yii Lu's memorial reached the Throne. He says 
that the foreign devils have actually demanded the surrender 
of the Taku forts, and he begs the Empress Dowager to 
declare war on them forthwith, to make them atone for their 

264 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

insolence and treachery. A special meeting of the Grand 
Council was immediately called. The Old Buddha was very 
wroth, but said she would postpone her decision until to-day, 
when all the Princes, Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the 
Boards and Ministries, and the Lieutenant-Generals of 
Banners, would meet in special audience. Prince Tuan, 
Ch'i Hsiu and Na T'ung showed her a despatch from the 
foreign Ministers couched in most insolent language 
demanding her immediate abdication, the degradation of 
the Heir Apparent, and the restoration of the Emperor/ 
The Ministers also asked that the Emperor should allow 
10,000 foreign troops to enter Peking to restore order. 
Kang Yi came to tell me that never had he seen the Old 
Buddha so angry, not even when she learned of K'ang Yu- 
wei's treason. " How dare ^they question my authority ! " 
she exclaimed. "If I can bear this, what must not be 
borne ? The insults of these foreigners pass all bounds. 
Let us exterminate them before we eat our morning meal." 2 

The wrath of the Old Buddha is indeed beyond control ; 
neither Jung Lu, nor any other can stop her now. She has 
told Jung Lu that if he wishes, he may still offer to escort 
the foreign Ministers to Tientsin, but she will give no 
guarantee for their safety on the journey because of their 
monstrous suggestion that she should abdicate. She does 
not absolutely desire their death, but says that the con- 
sideration she showed them in allowing the Legation guards 
to enter the city, and her sohcitude in restraining the 
Boxers, have been ill-requited. " It were better," says she, 
" to go down in one desperate encounter than to surrender 
our just rights at the bidding of the foreigner." 

Though only a woman. Her Majesty Tzu Hsi has all the 
courage of a man, and more than the ordinary man's 
intelligence. 

2Uh Day of the 5th Moon : The Hour of the Cock, 5-7 p.m. 

^ This was a forgery. 

2 A quotation from the "Book of Odes." 

265 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

(20th June). — I have just returned from visiting my brother- 
in-law, the Grand Secretary Kang Yi ; he told me all about 
this morning's audience. At the hour of the Tiger 
(3-5 A.M.) the Grand Council assembled in the Palace by 
the Lake, and were received by the Old Buddha in the 
Pavilion of the Ceremonial Phoenix. All were there, 
Prince Li, Jung Lu, Kang Yi, Wang Wen-shao, Ch'i Hsiu, 
and Chao Shu-ch'iao, but the Emperor was absent. This 
was a special audience, preparatory to the general audience 
of all the Princes and Ministers, and its object was to give 
the Grand Council an opportunity of laying before Her 
Majesty any new facts or opinions bearing upon the 
situation. 

With tears in his eyes, Jung Lu knelt before Her 
Majesty ; he confessed that the foreigners had only them- 
selves to blame if China declared war upon them, but he 
urged her to bear in mind that an attack on the Legations, 
as recommended by Prince Tuan and the rest of the 
Council, might entail the ruin of the ancestral shrines of the 
Dynasty, as well as the altars of the local and tutelary Gods. 
What good purpose, he asked, would be served by the 
besieging nay, even by the destruction, of this isolated handful 
of Europeans ? What lustre could it add to the Imperial 
arms ? Obviously, it must be waste of energy and mis- 
directed purpose. 

The Old Buddha replied that if these were his views, he 
had better persuade the foreigners to leave the city before 
the attack began ; she could no longer restrain the patriotic 
movement, even if she wished. If therefore, he had no 
better advice than this to offer, he might consider himself jj 
excused from further attendance at the Council. 

Jung Lu thereupon kowtowed thrice and left the audience 
hall to return to his own house. Upon his departure, Ch'i 
Hsiu drew from his boot the draft of the Decree which was 
to declare war. Her Majesty read it and exclaimed, 
" Admirable, admirable ! These are exactly my views." 

266 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

She asked each Grand Councillor in turn for his opinion, and 
they declared unanimously in favour of hostilities. It was 
now the hour appointed for the general audience and 
Li-Lien-ying came in to conduct her Majesty to her own 
apartments to take tea before proceeding to the " Hall of 
Diligent Government." 

All the leading members of the Imperial Clan were 
kneeling at the entrance to the Hall, awaiting their 
Majesties' arrival : the Princes Kung, Ch'un and Tuan ; the 
"Beilehs" Tsai Lien and Tsai Ying ; Duke Lan and his 
brother the "Beitzu" Ying; Prince Ch'ing and the five 
Grand Councillors ; the Princes Chuang, Su and Yi ; the 
Presidents, Chinese and Manchu, of the six Boards and the 
nine Ministries ; the Lieutenants-General of the twenty-four 
Banner divisions ; and the Comptrollers of the Imperial 
Household. Their Majesties arrived together in chairs, 
borne by four bearers. The Emperor alighted first, and 
knelt as the " benign mother " left her palanquin and 
entered the Hall, supported by the Chief Eunuch Li Lien- 
ying, and by his immediate subordinate, Ts'ui Chin. The 
Emperor was ghastly pale, and it was observed that he 
trembled as he took his seat on the Lower Throne by the 
Empress Dowager's side. 

The Old Buddha first called on all present to draw 
near to the Throne ; then, speaking with great vehemence, 
she declared that it was impossible for her to brook these 
latest indignities put upon her by the foreigners. Her 
Imperial dignity could not suffer it. Until yesterday, until, 
in fact, she had read the dispatch addressed to the Tsungli 
Yamen by the Diplomatic Body, it had been her intention 
to suppress the Boxers ; but in the face of their insolent 
proposal that she should hand over the reins of government 
to the Emperor, who had already proved himself quite 
unfitted to rule, she had been brought to the conclusion that 
no peaceful solution of the situation was possible. The 
insolence of the French Consul at Tientsin Tu Shih-lan (Du 

267 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Chaylard), in demanding the surrender of the Taku Forts 
was bad enough, but not so grievous an affront as the 
Ministers' preposterous proposal to interfere with her personal 
prerogatives as Sovereign. Her decision was now taken, her 
mind resolved ; not even Jung Lu, to whom she had always 
looked for wise counsel, could turn her from this purpose. 
Then, addressing more directly the Chinese present, she bade 
them all to remember that the rule of her Manchu House 
had conferred many and great benefits upon the nation for 
the past two hundred and fifty years, and that the Throne 
had always held the balance fairly in the benevolent con- 
sideration for all its subjects, north and south alike. The 
Dynasty had scrupulously followed the teachings of the 
Sages in administering the government ; taxation had been 
lighter than under any previous rulers. Had not the people 
been relieved, in time of their distress, by grants from the 
Privy Purse ? In her own reign, had not rebellions been sup- 
pressed in such a manner as to earn the lasting gratitude of 
the southern provinces ? It was therefore now their duty to 
rally to the support of the Throne, and to assist it in 
putting an end, once and for all, to foreign aggression. It 
had lasted too long. If only the nation were of one mind, it 
could not be difficult to convince these barbarians that they 
had mistaken the leniency of the past for weakness. That 
leniency had been great ; in accordance with the principle 
which prescribes the showing of kindness to strangers from 
afar, the Imperial House had ever shown them the greatest 
consideration. The Emperor K'ang Hsi had even allowed 
them liberty to propagate their religion, an act of mistaken 
benevolence which had been an increasing cause of regret to 
his successors. In matters of vital principle, she said, these 
foreigners ignore the sacred doctrines of the Sages; in 
matters of detail, they insult the customs and cherished 
beliefs of the Chinese people. They have trusted in the 
strength of their arms, but to-day China can rely upon 
millions of her brave and patriotic volunteers. Are not 

268 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

even striplings taking up arms for the defence of their 
country? She had always been of the opinion that the 
alUed armies had been permitted to escape too easily in the 
tenth year of Hsien Feng (1860), and that only a united 
effort was then necessary to have given China the victory. 
To-day, at last, the opportunity for revenge had come. 

Turning to the Emperor, she asked for his opinion. His 
Majesty, after a long pause, and with evident hesitation, 
urged her to follow Jung Lu's advice, to refrain from 
attacking the Legations, and to have the foreign Ministers 
escorted in safety to the coast. But, he added, it must be 
for her to decide. He could not dare to assume any 
responsibility in the matter. 

The junior Chinese Member of the Council, Chao 
Shu-ch'iao then spoke. He begged the Old Buddha to 
issue her orders for the immediate extermination of every 
foreigner in the interior, so as to avoid the danger of 
spies reporting on the nature and extent of the patriotic 
movement. Her Majesty commanded the Grand Council to 
consider this suggestion and to memorialise in due course for 
an Edict. 

After him, hoAvever, each in his turn, the Manchu 
Li-shan, and the Chinese Hsli Ching-ch'eng and Yiian 
Ch'ang implored the Empress not to declare war against the 
whole world. China, they said, could not possibly escape 
defeat, and, even if the Empire should not be partitioned, 
there must arise great danger of rebellion and anarchy from 
within. Yiian Ch'ang even went so far as to say that he had 
served as a Minister of the Tsungli Yamen for two years 
and that he had found foreigners to be generally reasonable 
and just in their dealings. He did not believe in the 
authenticity of the despatch demanding the Empress's 
abdication, which Prince Tuan professed to have received 
from the Diplomatic Body ; in his opinion, it was impossible 
that the Ministers should have dared to suggest any such 
interference with China's internal affairs. 

269 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

At this Prince Tuan arose and angrily asked the 
Empress whether she proposed to Usten to the words of 
a Chinese traitor ? Her Majesty rebuked him for his loud 
and violent manner of speaking, but ordered Yiian Ch'ang 
to leave the Audience Hall. No one else dared to say 
anything. 

She then ordered the promulgation of the Decree, for 
immediate communication to all parts of the Empire ; at the 
same time announcing her intention of sacrificing at the 
ancestral shrines before the commencement of hostilities. 
Prince Chuang and Duke Lan were appointed joint 
Commanders-in-Chief of the Boxers, but Tzti Hsi gave them 
clearly to understand that if the foreign Ministers would 
agree to take their departure from Peking this afternoon 
Jung Lu was to do his best to protect them as far as 
Tientsin. Finally, the Empress ordered the Grand Council 
to report themselves at mid-day for further orders. All 
were then permitted to retire with the exception of Prince 
Tuan and Duke Lan ; these remained in special audience 
for some time longer. Hsii T'ung was present at the 
general audience, having made good his escape from the 
Legation quarter, and was congratulated by Her Majesty on 
his safety. 

They say that Duke Lan told the Empress of a vision in 
which, the night before, he had seen Yii Huang, the Jade 
Emperor. To him, and to his company of Boxers while 
drilling, the god had appeared, and had expressed his 
satisfaction with them and their patriotic movement. The 
Old Buddha observed that the Jade Emperor had appeared 
in the same manner at the beginning of the reign of the 
Empress Wu of the T'ang Dynasty (the most famous woman 
ruler in Chinese history) ; the omen, she thought, showed 
clearly that the gods are on the side of China and against 
the barbarians. 

When, at the hour of the Sheep (1 p.m.) Kang Yi returned 
to the Palace, he found Prince Ch'ing in the anteroom of 

270 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

the Grand Council, greatly excited. It seems that En Hai,^ 
a Manchu sergeant, had just come to his residence and 
reported that he had shot and killed two foreigners whom he 
had met, riding in sedan chairs that morning, just opposite 
the Tsungpu Street. As orders had been issued by Prince 
Tuan and Ch'i Hsiu to the troops that all foreigners were 
to be shot wherever met, and as one of these two was the 
German Minister, he hoped that Prince Ch'ing would 
recommend him for special promotion. Prince Tuan had 
already heard the news and was greatly pleased. Prince 
Ch'ing and Kang Yi discussed the matter and decided to 
inform the Empress Dowager at once. Kang Yi did not 
think that the death of one foreign devil, more or less, could 
matter much, especially now that it had been decided to 
wipe out the Legations entirely, but Prince Ch'ing thought 
differently and reiterated his opinion that the killing of an 
accredited Envoy is a serious matter. Until now, only 
missionaries and their converts had been put to death, but 
the murder of a Minister could not fail to arouse fierce 
indignation, even as it did in the case of the British 
negotiator^ who was captured by our troops in the 10th year 
of Hsien-Feng (1860). 

The Grand Council then entered the presence. Prince Li, 
as the senior member of the Council, told the Old Buddha 
the news, but added that the foreigners had brought it on 
themselves because they had first fired on the people. 
Upon hearing this Her Majesty ordered Jung Lu to be 
summoned in haste, but Kang Yi, being extremely busy 
with his work of providing supplies for the Boxers, did not 
await his arrival. 

Now, even as I write, they tell me that bullets are 
whizzing and whistling overhead ; but I am too deaf to hear 
them. En Ch'u says that already the Kansuh braves have 

1 This man's subsequent arrest and execution are described in a Censorate 
memorial at the end of this chapter. 

2 Mr. (later Sir Harry) Parkes. 

271 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

begun the attack upon the Legations and that Jung Lu's 
endeavours to have the foreigners escorted to a place of 
safety have completely failed. 

Liu Shun has just come in and asked for leave to go home 
for a week. People are leaving the city in all directions and 
in great numbers. 

24!th Day of the 5th Moon : the Hour of the Dog, 7-9 p.m. 
(June 20th, 1900). — En Ming has just come in to inform me 
that a foreign deviP has been captured by Tung Fu-hsiang's 
troops. They were taking him, wounded, to Prince Chuang 's 
Palace, prodding at him with their bayonets ; and he was 
babbling in his foreign tongue. He will be decapitated, and 
his captors will receive good rewards (Prince Ch'ing has 
just been given command of the gendarmerie). " The rut 
in which the cart was overturned is just ahead." Let this 
be a warning to those puny barbarian ruffians, the soldiery 
encamped at the very gates of the Palace. {This alludes to 
the proximity of the Legations to the Palace enclosure.) 
Jung Lu was all ready to escort the foreigners to Tientsin ; 
he had with him over 2,000 Manchu troops. Doubtless he 
means well, but the Old Buddha now says that she will not 
prevent the Kansuh braves from destroying the Legations. 
If the foreigners choose to leave with Jung Lu, let them do 
so, and they will not be attacked ; but if they insist upon 
remaining, then their punishment be upon their own heads, 
and " let them not say they were not forewarned." 

Duke Lan sent over to invite me to breakfast with him 
to-morrow ; he is sore pressed with business cares just now ; 
nevertheless, he and his brothers always treat their old 
teacher with politeness and respect. Though bellicose by 
nature, he is singularly gentle and refined. Chi Pin ^ sent 
over to ask whether we would like to move to his house in 
the north of the city, because the noise of the firing is very 

^ Professor James. 

2 Mentioned above under full name of Chi Shou-ch'eng. Chi Pin was his 
" hao " or intimate personal name. 

272 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

great in our quarter, but I am so deaf that I hear not a sound 
of it all.i 

Chi Pin is writing to his father-in-law, Yii Hsien, about 
the audience in the Palace. 

Duke Lan writes to tell me that this evening ^ ^ -^ -^ 
informed Prince Tuan and Chi Hsiu that, by the orders of 
that rascally Chinaman, Yiian Ch'ang, the corpse of the 
foreign devil had been coffined. # * # * wanted Prince 
Tuan to have the corpse decapitated and the head exhibited 
over the Tung An Gate. Yiian Ch'ang defends his action, 
saying that he knew the German Minister personally at the 
Tsung Li Yamen, and he cannot bear the idea of leaving his 
body uncoffined. Mencius says, *' It is common to all men 
to feel pity. No one can see a child fall into a well without 
a shudder of commiseration and horror." But these Chinese 
traitors of ours are compassionate to the enemies of our 
glorious Kingdom, and the foes of our ancient race. It is 
passing strange ! 

25th Day of the 5th Moon : the Hour of the Monkey, 3-5 p.m. 
(June 21st). — My chair-bearers have fled from the city, so 
to-day I had to use my cart to go to Duke Lan's residence. 
Prince Tuan and the Grand Secretary, Kang Yi, were there ; 
also Chung Li, lately Commandant of the gendarmerie, and 
the " Beileh " Tsai Lien. Prince Tuan had seen the Old 
Buddha this morning ; their Majesties have moved from the 
Palace by the lake into the Forbidden City. As the Empress 
Dowager was crossing the road which runs between the Gate 
of the Hsi Yiian (Western Park) and the Hsi Hua Gate of 
the Forbidden City she saw that a number of Boxers had 
lined up on each side of the street as a Guard of Honour for 
the " Sacred Chariot." She presented them with 2,000 taels, 
congratulating their commander. Prince Chuang, on their 
stalwart appearance. Said the Old Buddha to Prince Tuan, 

1 Ching Shan's house was just inside the Tung An Gate of the 
Imperial City, about a quarter of a mile to the north of the present 
Legation area boundary. 

273 T 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" The foreigners are like fish in the stew-pan. For forty 
years have I lain on brushwood and eaten bitterness because 
of them, nursing my revenge like Prince Kou Chien of the 
Ylieh State (5th Century B.C.). Never have I treated the 
foreigners otherwise than generously ; have I not invited 
their womenfolk to visit the Lake Palace ? But now, if 
only the country will stand together, their defeat is 
certain." 

I think Prince Tuan hopes that the Old Buddha will now 
have the Ta-A-Ko proclaimed Emperor ; but unfortunately 
the Nanking Viceroy, Liu K'un-yi, has much influence over 
her in this matter. When he was in Peking this spring, in 
the second moon, he solemnly warned her against the Boxers 
and ventured even to remonstrate at the Ta-A-Ko being 
made Heir Apparent. Were it not for Liu K'un Yi, he 
would have been Emperor long since ; therefore Prince Tuan 
has a very bitter hatred against him. Liu told the Old 
Buddha at his second audience that if H.M. Kuang Hsii 
were deposed, the people of his province would assuredly 
rise in rebellion. What concern is it of theirs who reigns 
in the Capital ? His present Majesty's reign has brought 
many misfortunes to the nation ; it is high time that it 
came to an end. Why does not Prince Tuan enter the 
Palace and proclaim his son Emperor? Tung Fu-hsiang's 
Kansuh braves and the Prince's own Manchu soldiery would 
surely rally round him. But if Jung Lu opposed them the 
Old Buddha would side with him. His wife ^ is for ever in 
the Palace. 

26^/i Day of the 5th Moon (June 22nd). — I went this 
morning to Prince Li's palace in the western quarter of the 
city. 1 had to go in my small cart, because my chair- 
bearers have either run away to their homes in the country 

1 This favourite companion of Tzii Hsi was really Jung Lu's secondary 
consort, who was only raised to the rank of la premiere legitime after his first 
wife's death in September, 190O. She survived him and continued to 
exercise great influence with the Old Buddha. 

274 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

or had joined the Boxers. My two sons, En Ch'u and 
En Ming, have been making arrangements to quarter one 
hundred Boxers in our outer courtyard, and it seems that 
we shall have to supply them with food. Although it 
cannot be denied that everyone should join in this noble 
work of exterminating the barbarians, I grudge, nevertheless, 
spending money in these hard times even for the Boxers, for 
rice is now become as dear as pearls, and firewood more 
precious than cassia buds. It may be that, in my old age, I 
am becoming like that Hsiao Lung, brother to the founder 
of the Liang Dynasty, who was so miserly that he stored up 
his money in heaps. On every heap of a million cash he 
would place a yellow label, while a purple label marked each 
hoard of ten millions. It is recorded of him, that his 
relatives abused him for this habit; as for me, my sons 
would like to get at my money, but they cannot. 

I find Prince Li much depressed in his mind ; his treasure 
vaults contain vast wealth ; as senior member of the Grand 
Council, moreover, he feels a weight of responsibility that is 
too much for him. His abilities are certainly small, and 
I have never yet understood why the Old Buddha appointed 
him to succeed Prince Kung as senior Councillor. He tells 
me of a stormy meeting at the Grand Council this morning ; 
it seems that Her Majesty is greatly annoyed with Liu 
K'un-yi for sending in a telegram strongly denouncing 
the Boxers. He has also telegraphed privately to Jung Lu, 
imploring him to check their rebellion, but no one knows 
what answer Jung Lu has made. 

In his telegram to the Empress Dowager, which came 
forward by express couriers from Pao-ting-fu, the Viceroy 
declares that he would be more than ready to march north 
with all his troops if it were to repel a foreign invasion, 
but he firmly declines to lend his forces for the purpose 
of massacring a few helpless foreigners. Commenting on 
this, the Empress Dowager quoted the words of the Classic 
Historical Commentary (Tso Chiian) : " The upper and lower 

275 t2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

jaws mutually assist each other ; if the lips shrivel, then 
must the teeth catch cold." Thereby she meant to imply 
that even such, in its close interdependence, is the relation 
between the northern and southern parts of our Empire, and 
no one should know this better than Liu K'un-yi, after his 
experiences at the time of the Taiping Rebellion. 

The Old Buddha has directed Prince Chuang, as head of 
the city gendarmerie, to issue a proclamation offering 
Tls. 50 for every head of a male barbarian brought in, 
Tls. 40 for that of a woman, and Tls. 30 for that of a 
child. 

While I was still talking with Prince Li, Jung Lu came 
over in his sedan chair to visit his kinsman. He looks very 
tired, and walks with a limp. He was loud in denouncing 
the Boxers, who, he says, are quite incapable of doing any 
good. They had even now dared to shout abuse at him 
while passing the " Houmen," calling him a Chinese traitor. 
I could not help thinking that Jung Lu deserved the name, 
but I did not say so. He is a strong man, the strongest of 
all the Manchus, and I greatly fear that his influence may 
yet be able to wreck all our hopes. 

Returning to my house, I heard that the Princes Tuan 
and Chuang were sending troops to surround the French 
Cathedral, which is defended by a few foreign soldiers only, 
and which should, therefore, be easily captured. Prince Li's 
palace is within a stone's throw of the cathedral, and to enter 
the Forbidden City he has to pass just south of it, through 
the " Hsi-Hua " gate. Although greatly disturbed by the 
impending hostilities in his neighbourhood, he fears to move 
to a quieter locality, lest, in his absence, his treasure vaults 
should be plundered. No doubt the cathedral will fall in 
a few days. 

My courtyard is now full of Boxers and Kansuh soldiery ; 
I can no longer call my house my own. How I loathe 
these cursed foreigners for causing all this disturbance ! 

The same Day: at the Hour of the Dog (7-9 p.m.). — I 

276 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

learn that Jung Lu has just sent off a courier with a 
telegram, which Yiian Shih-k'ai is to send on to the Viceroys 
of Canton, Nanking and Wuch'ang. Prince Li has sent me 
a copy, which I am to keep secret ; it reads as follows : — 

"With all respect I have received your telegrams. 
Where one weak people dares to oppose ten or more 
powerful nations, the inevitable result can only be complete 
ruin. It has always been maintained as a fixed principle 
with civilised nations, that, in the event of war between any 
two Powers, their respective Envoys should be treated with 
respect. Can it now be that this our great inheritance, 
founded by our remote ancestors at so great a cost of toil 
and danger, is to be endangered, and suddenly brought 
to ruin, by these false workers of magic ? Shall the fate of 
the Dynasty be staked on a single throw? It requires 
no peculiar sagacity to see that these Boxers' hopes of 
success are nothing but the shadow of a dream. It is true 
and undeniable, that, from their Majesties on the Throne 
down to the very lowest of our people, all have suffered 
from the constant aggression of foreigners and their 
unceasing insults. For this reason these patriotic train- 
bands have been organised, claiming a divine mission of 
retaliation ; but the present crisis is all-serious, and although 
I have used every effort to explain its dangers, I have 
laboured in vain. I am sick and suffering from lameness, 
but since I obtained leave of absence I have already 
submitted seven separate memorials denouncing these 
Boxers. Seeing that they produced no result, I have now 
left my sick bed, in order, if possible, to explain the situation 
clearly to their Majesties ; and this also has been in vain. 

" All the Princes and Ministers of State who surround the 
Throne now cry out against me with one voice, as your 
Excellencies can readily believe. I dare not quote in this 
place the words of Her Majesty, but I may say that the 
whole of the Imperial family have joined the Boxers, and at 
least two-thirds of our troops, both Manchu and Chinese, 
are with them. They swarm in the streets of our capital 
like a plague of locusts, and it will be extremely difficult to 
disperse them. 

277 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" Even the divine wisdom of Her Majesty is not sufficient 
to stand against the will of the majority. If Heaven is not 
on our side, how can I oppose its will ? For several days 
past I have been pondering night and day on some way out 
of our difficulties, some forlorn hope of escape. Therefore 
yesterday morning (June 20th) I arranged for a meeting with 
the foreign Ministers at the Tsung Li Yamen, with a view to 
providing a safe conduct for the entire foreign community, 
with my own troops, to Tientsin. This course appeared to 
me to hold out some reasonable chances of success, but 
Prince Tuan's soldiery slew the German Minister, and since 
then the situation continues to develop from hour to hour 
with such extraordinary rapidity that words fail me to 
describe it. On my side, in the discussions of the Grand 
Council and the Chamberlains of the Presence, are Prince 
Ch'ing and Wang Wen-shao, but the former, following his 
usual practice, has applied for leave, and Her Majesty will 
have nothing to do with him ; so that these two are of no 
real assistance to me. I have no fear of death, but I grieve 
at the thought of the guilt which will be recorded against 
me in history ; Heaven knows that I am overwhelmed 
with grief and shame. I have received great favours at 
the hands of the Throne, and can only now pray to the 
spirits of the Dynastic ancestors to protect our Empire. 
The situation here is well-nigh lost, but it remains for your 
Excellencies to take all possible steps for the protection of 
your respective provinces. Let each do his utmost, and let 
proper secrecy be maintained." Signed "Jung Lu, with 
tears in his eyes." 

It is reported from the Grand Council that Chang Chih- 
tung has telegraphed to Her Majesty, assuring her of his 
devotion and loyalty, and asking whether he should come 
north with his troops to help in the work of destroying the 
barbarians. Chang is a time-server, and loves not the 
Emperor;^ we have not forgotten how he approved the 
Decree appointing an Heir Apparent, and how he would 

1 A short biographical note on Chang Chih-tung will be found in the 
Appendix. 

278 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

have been a party to His Majesty's removal from the 
Throne, justifying himself on quibbling grounds of legality 
and precedents as to the lawful succession. He trims his 
sails according to the wind of the moment, and has no 
courage of fixed principles, like Liu K'un-yi. I despise the 
latter's views in opposing the Boxers, but no one can help 
admiring his upright character. 

(At this point the diarist proceeds to give a fidl account of 
the rise and spread of the Boxer movement, describing in detail 
their magic rites, their incantations, and their ceremonies of 
initiation. The facts have nearly all been published before, so 
that most of this portion of the Diary is here omitted. It is 
chiefly interesting as showing to what heights of superstition 
even the most educated of the Manchus, including the Empress 
Dowager, could go. We give one example only of the farrago 
of gibberish which, believed in high quarters, nearly brought 
about the end of the Dynasty.) 

The Boxers also possess a secret Talisman, consisting of 
a small piece of yellow paper, which they carry on their 
persons when going into battle. On it is drawn, in vermilion 
paint, a figure which is neither that of man nor devil, demon 
nor saint. It has a head, but no feet ; its face is sharp-pointed, 
with eyes and eyebrows, and four halos. From the monster's 
heart to its lower extremities runs a mystic inscription, which 
reads : "I am Buddha of the cold cloud ; before me lies the 
black deity of fire ; behind is Laotzu himself." On the 
creature's body are also borne the characters for Buddha, 
Tiger, and Dragon. On the top left-hand corner are the 
words "invoke first the Guardian of Heaven," and on the 
right-hand corner, " invoke next the black gods of pestilence." 
The Empress Dowager has learned this incantation by heart, 
and repeats it seventy times daily, and every time that she 
repeats it the chief eunuch (Li Lien-ying) shouts : " There 
goes one more foreign devil." The Boxers determine the fate 
of their victims by a curious test, which consists of burning 

279 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

a ball of paper, and seeing whether the ashes ascend or 
remain upon the ground. They may believe that it is the 
spirits who decide, but, as a matter of fact, these balls of 
paper are sometimes made of thinner material, which 
naturally leave a lighter ash that is easily caught up in the 
air ; whereas, when they use thick paper, the ashes seldom 
rise. Some of the balls are also more tightly rolled than 
others, and it is quite evident that the ashes of the loose ones 
have a much better chance of blowing away than those which 
are tightly rolled. Similarly, when they set fire to any place, 
they profess to be guided by their gods, and they say that fire 
leaps forth at the point of their swords in any quarter which 
the spirits desire to have destroyed. As a matter of fact, 
however, there is deception practised in this also, for when 
they wish to burn any place for purposes of plunder they 
have it sprinkled in advance with kerosene oil, and if no oil 
is available, they even pile up brushwood around it, upon 
which they drop a lighted match secreted upon their 
persons. 

27th Day of the 5th Moon (June 23rd). — The foreign 
barbarian of whom I have written ^ was executed this 
morning at the hour of the Hare (6 a.m.) and his head is now 
exhibited in a cage, hanging from the main beam of the 
" Tung- An " gate. It had to be put in a cage, as there was 
no queue to hang it by. The face has a most horrible 
expression, but it is a fine thing, all the same, to see a 
foreigner's head hung up at our palace gates. It brings 
back to memory the heads that I saw outside the Board of 
Punishments in the tenth year of Hsien-Feng (1860), but 
there were black devils among those. Jung Lu tried to 
save the barbarian's life, and even intended to rescue him by 
force, but the Princes Tuan and Chuang had determined 
upon his death, and they had him executed before Jung Lu 
knew it, so that, when his men arrived upon the scene, the 
foreigner's head had already parted company from his body. 

1 Vide under June 20th. 
280 




The Ta-A-Ko, Son of Prince Tuan, the Boxer jLeader. 
Appointed Heir-Apparent in January, 1900. Appointment rescinded Novemher, 1901. 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

The Princes had him kneeUng before them yesterday for 
several hours on a chain, and all the time he kept on 
imploring them to spare his life ; his groans were most 
painful to hear. The Old Buddha has been informed of his 
death, and she gave orders that Tls. 500 be distributed to 
the soldiers who had captured him, i.e. a reward ten times 
greater than that which was promised in the proclamations. 

The Boxers who occupy my courtyard tried to take away 
my cigars from me, but subsequently relented and allowed 
me to keep them because of my extreme old age. Nothing 
of foreign origin, not even matches, may be used nowadays, 
and these Boxer chiefs, Chang Te-ch'eng and Han Yi-li, 
both of whom are common and uneducated men, are treated 
with the greatest respect even by Princes of the blood : a 
curious state of affairs indeed ! 

Duke Tsai Lan came to see me this afternoon. He tells 
me an extraordinary story how that the Heir Apparent 
called the Emperor a " Devil's pupil " this morning, and, 
when rebuked for it, actually boxed His Majesty's ears. 
The Emperor then reported the facts in a memorial to 
Her Majesty, who flew into a towering rage, and gave 
orders to the eunuch Ts'ui to administer twenty sharp 
strokes of the whip on the Heir Apparent 's person. Prince 
Tuan is much enraged at this, but he is horribly afraid of 
Her Majesty, and, when she speaks to him, "he is on 
tenter-hooks, as if thorns pricked him, and the sweat runs 
down his face." 

T'ung Fu-hsiang told the Empress Dowager yesterday 
that the Legations have come to the end of their tether. 
From a rockery on some high ground in the Forbidden 
City gardens, the Old Buddha could see the flames bursting 
from the Legation quarter, and was more than once assured 
that final destruction had come upon the foreigners at last. 
But later in the afternoon, Hsli Ching-ch'eng was received 
in audience, when he presented a memorial which he and 
Yiian Chang had drawn up, denouncing the Boxers ; he 

281 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

told Her Majesty that it was not the Legations, but the 
Han Lin Academy, that was in flames, the Kansuh soldiery 
having set fire to it in the hope that the conflagration might 
spread and thus enable them to force a way into the 
Legation. Her Majesty was greatly disappointed and 
displeased, severely blaming Tung Fu-hsiang, and she sent 
for Jung Lu and talked with him in private for a long whfle. 

Good news has come in to-day of victorious fighting at 
Tientsin ; Yii Lu reports that many foreigners were slain 
in their attack on the Taku forts, and several of their war- 
ships sunk. Practically the whole of the foreign community 
of Tientsin had been annihilated, he says. 

Many hundreds of Chinese Christians were put to death 
to-day just outside Prince Chuang's palace. The judges 
who convicted them were Prince Chuang, Yi Ku, Fen Che, 
and Kuei Ch'un. There was no mercy shown, and a large 
number of innocent people perished with the guilty. The 
Empress is essentially a kind-hearted woman, and she was 
greatly shocked to hear of this wholesale massacre. She was 
heard to say that if the Catholics would only recant and 
reform, a way of escape might very weU be provided for 
them. 

29th Day of the 5th Moon (June 25th). — To-day about 
sixty of the Boxers, led by the Princes Tuan and Chuang, 
and the " Beilehs " Tsai Lien and Tsai Ying, marched to the 
Palace at 6 o'clock in the morning to search there for 
converts. Coming to the gate of the Palace of Peaceful 
Longevity, where their Majesties were still abed, they noisily 
clamoured for the Emperor to come out, denouncing him as a 
friend of foreigners. Prince Tuan was their spokesman. I 
heard of the incident from Wen Lien, Comptroller of the 
Household, who was on duty this morning ; he was amazed at 
the foolhardy effrontery of Prince Tuan, and thought that he 
had probably been drinking. On hearing the noise outside 
and the shouts of the Boxers clamouring to kill all " Devil's 
pupils," the Old Buddha, who was taking her early tea, 

282 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

came out swiftly and stood at the head of the steps, while 
the Princes and the Boxer leaders swarmed in the court- 
yard below her. She asked Prince Tuan whether he had 
come to look upon himself as the Emperor; if not, how 
dared he behave in this reckless and insolent manner ? She 
would have him know that she, and she alone, had power to 
create or depose the Sovereign, and she would have him 
remember that the power which had made his son Heir 
Apparent could also wipe him out in a moment. If he and 
his fellow Princes thought that because the State was at a 
crisis of confusion they could follow their own inclinations 
in matters of this kind, they would find themselves very 
seriously mistaken. She bade them depart, and refrain 
from ever again entering the palace precincts, except when 
summoned to her presence on duty. But they would first 
prostrate themselves and ask His Majesty's pardon for their 
insolent behaviour. As a slight punishment for their 
offences, she further commanded that the Princes be 
mulcted of a year's allowances. As to the Boxer chiefs, 
who had dared to create this uproar in her hearing, they 
should be decapitated upon the spot, and Jung Lu's guards, 
who were on duty at the outer gates, were ordered to carry 
this sentence into immediate effect. Her Majesty is so 
greatly incensed against the Boxers at this moment that 
everyone thinks that Jung Lu will now be able to put a 
stop to the attacks on the Legations. The Emperor was 
much alarmed at this incident, and when it was over humbly 
thanked Her Majesty for so benevolently protecting him. 

Later ; 9 p.m. — The Old Buddha has suddenly determined, 
in her rage against Prince Tuan and his followers, to put a 
stop to the fighting in Peking, and she now agrees that 
Jung Lu shall proceed to the Legations to discuss terms of 
peace. At 6 p.m. to-day all firing stopped, and Jung Lu, at 
the head of his troops, proceeded to the bridge which lies on 
the north of the Legation quarter. The foreigners came out 
from their hiding-places and commenced to parley ; they 

283 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

were shown a board, and on it the words written : " Orders 
have now been received from the Empress Dowager to afford 
due protection to the Legations." Jung Lu hoped to be able 
to induce the foreign Ministers to confer with him for the 
purpose of restoring order. For three hours not a shot has 
been fired ; but En Ming has just come in to tell me that 
the situation has again changed, and that the Old Buddha 
has heard such good accounts of the defeat of the foreign 
relief force on its way to Peking that she is once more 
determined to give the Boxers their head and " to eat the 
flesh and sleep on the skins " of the foreign devils. 

A.th Day of the 6th Moon : at the Hour of the Dog, 7 p.m. 
(June 30, 1900). — Kang Yi called to-day, and remained with 
me for the evening meal. He tells me that Tung Fu- 
hsiang called in person this morning on Jung Lu at his 
residence, and asked him for the loan of the heavy artillery 
which is under his orders. Jung Lu is said to have ample 
armaments in stock in the city, the property of the Wu 
Wei-chiin (Military Defence Corps) sufficient to knock every 
foreign building to pieces in a few hours. 

Tung was kept waiting at Jung Lu's door for over an 
hour; when finally admitted, he began to bluster, whereupon 
Jung Lu feigned sleep. " He gave no consent, but leant on 
his seat and slumbered. "^ Tung then expostulated with 
Jung Lu for his rudeness, but the Commander-in-chief only 
smiled, and brought the interview to an end by remarking 
that Tung's only way to get the guns would be to persuade 
the Old Buddha to give him Jung Lu's head with them. 
" Apply for an audience at once," he said. " She believes 
you to be a brave man and will certainly comply with any 
request you may make." 

Tung Fu-hsiang left in a towering rage, and made 
straight for the Forbidden City, although the hour for 
audiences was long since past. At the gate of the Hall of 
Imperial Supremacy (Huang Chi-tien) he made a loud 

1 A quotation from Mencius. 

284 






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DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

disturbance, bidding the eunuchs inform Her Majesty that 
the Kansuh Commander-in-chief was without, desiring 
audience. It so happened that the Old Buddha was 
engaged in painting a design of bamboos on silk, and she 
was highly displeased at being thus disturbed. Tung was 
ushered in, however, and fell on his knees. " Well," said 
Her Majesty, " I suppose that you have come to report the 
complete destruction of the Legations ? This will be the 
tenth time since the end of last Moon." " I have come," 
replied Tung Fu-hsiang, " to ask Your Majesty's permission 
to impeach the Grand Secretary Jung Lu as a traitor and 
the friend of barbarians. He has the guns which my army 
needs ; with their aid not a stone would be left standing in 
the whole of the Legation quarter. But he has sworn never 
to lend these guns, even though Your Majesty should 
command it." Angrily the Old Buddha replied, " Be silent. 
You were nothing but a brigand to begin with, and if I 
allowed you to enter my army it was only to give you an 
opportunity of atoning for your former misdeeds. Even 
now you are behaving like a brigand, forgetting the majesty 
of the Imperial Presence. Of a truth, your tail is becoming 
too heavy to wag. Leave the Palace forthwith, and do not 
let me find you here again unless summoned to audience." 

Kang Yi declares that we shall never take the 
Legations so long as Jung Lu continues to exercise his 
present great influence at Court. Li Shan, who is also 
a great favourite of the Empress Dowager, is now on the side 
of those who would make peace with the foreigners, and has 
been impeached for it by Na T'ung. 

The following proclamation is now placarded all over the 
city, in accordance with the Empress Dowager's orders 
issued to Prince Chuang. They say that she means to pay 
the rewards from her own privy purse : 

" Rewards. 

" Now that all foreign churches and chapels have been 

285 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

razed to the gi'ound, and that no place of refuge or conceal- 
ment is left for the foreigners, they must unavoidably 
scatter, flying in every direction. Be it therefore known 
and announced to all men, scholars and volunteers, that any 
person found guilty of harbouring foreigners will incur the 
penalty of decapitation. For every male foreigner taken 
alive a reward of 50 taels will be given ; for every female 40 
taels, and for every child 30 taels ; but it is to be clearly 
understood that they shall be taken alive, and that they 
shall be genuine foreigners. Once this fact has been duly 
authenticated, the reward will be paid without delay. A 
special proclamation, requiring reverent obedience." 

Much larger rewards than these were paid in the tenth 
year of Hsieng-Feng (1860) for the heads of barbarians, 
but of course in those days they were comparatively rare, 
whereas now, alas, they have become as common as bees ! 

This morning an important trial took place outside the 
gate of Prince Chuang's palace ; Yi Ku, Fen Che, and Kuei 
Ch'un presided. Over nine hundred people were summarily 
executed by the Boxers, in some cases before any proofs 
whatsoever had been substantiated in regard to their alleged 
J connection with foreigners. Helpless babes even were 
amongst the slain. Fen Che is nothing more than a butcher 
and the Old Buddha remonstrated with Prince Chuang for 
not keeping the Boxers in better order. 

8i/i Day of the Qth Moon, 11 a.m. (July 4th). — Yii Hsien's 
son-in-law, Chi Shou-ch'eng, came and talked with me for a 
long while. The bombardment of the city was going on all 
the time he was here, and to the south of my house, close to 
the Imperial City Wall, the troops of Li Ping-heng were 
mounting cannon on an elevated platform. They are all still 
very wroth with Jung Lu, who refuses to lend his guns, and 
his troops are so faithful to him that it is impossible to bribe 
them to disobey him. Jung Lu's courage is really extraor- 
dinary ; he said of himself lately, that " in the days of the 
wicked Ruler (meaning Prince Tuan) he bided his time on 
the shores of the bleak North Sea, awaiting the purification 

286 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

of the Empire."^ I am told that Prince Tuan has taken 
possession of one of the Imperial Seals, so as to be able to 
proclaim his son Emperor at the first favourable opportunity ; 
but if the Old Buddha finds this out, as most probably she 
will, there is trouble ahead for Prince Tuan. 

Chi Shou-ch'eng tells me that Yli Hsien has sent in a 
memorial to the Empress Dowager with reference to the mis- 
sionaries in Shansi. Ten days ago she had sent him a secret 
Decree, saying, "Slay all foreigners wheresoever you find 
them ; even though they be prepared to leave your province, 
yet must they be slain." It seems that the Old Buddha 
ordered that this Decree should be sent to every high provin- 
cial official in the Empire, but it is now reported that Tuan 
Fang, the acting governor of Shensi, and Yli Chang, gover- 
nor of Honan, together with the high officials in Mongolia, 
received the Edict in a very diffisrent form, for the word 
"slay" had been changed to "protect." It is feared that 
some treacherous minister is responsible for this, but no one 
dares inform Her Majesty. To Yli Hsien's latest memorial, 
she has made the following reply, which has been sent by 
the fastest express riders to T'ai-Yiian fu : — " I command 
that all foreigners — men, women, and children, old and 
young — be summarily executed. Let not one escape, so that 
my Empire may be purged of this noisome source of corrup- 
tion, and that peace may be restored to my loyal subjects." 
Chi Shou-ch'eng tells me that Yli Hsien's bitterness against 
foreigners is inspired by his wife, of whom he is greatly afraid. 
He himself has earned golden opinions in T'ai-Yiian during 
his short administration, and has a high reputation for even- 
handed justice. He says also that this last Decree gave 
pleasure to Prince Chuang ; Jung Lu tried to stop it, asking 
the Old Buddha what glory could China expect to gain by 
the slaughter of women and children. "We should become 
the laughing-stock of the world," he said, "and the Old 
Buddha's widespread fame and reputation for benevolence 

1 Quotation from Mencius. 
287 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

would be grievously injured." " Yes," replied the Empress 
Dowager, " but these foreigners of yours wish to see me 
deposed, and I am only paying off old scores. Ever since 
the days of Tao-Kuang this uproarious guest within our 
borders has been maltreating his hosts, and it is time that all 
should know who is the real master of the house. " 

Yesterday afternoon the Empress Dowager crossed over 
to the Lake Palace for a water picnic, attended by several 
ladies of the Court. The continuous bombardment of the 
French cathedral eventually made her head ache, so she 
despatched a chamberlain to the officer commanding at 
the Hsi-Hua Gate, ordering them to cease firing until 
her return to the Forbidden City. 

ll^y^ Day of the 6th Moon (7th July). — Yii Lu has sent in 
a ridiculous memorial, reporting the capture of four camels, 
as well as the killing of many foreigners, in Tientsin. Jung 
Lu has advised him to cease attacking the foreign Settle- 
ments. Talking of Jung Lu, I hear that Tung Fu-hsiang 
recently hired a Manchu soldier to assassinate him, but, 
instead of doing so, the man betrayed the plot to Jung Lu. 
This soldier turns out to be a brother of that En Hai who 
slew the foreign devil (Baron von Ketteler), and Tung thought 
therefore that he would gladly do anything to assist 
in destroying the Legations. But he is a clansman of Jung 
Lu's banner, and, like Yii Kung-ssii, whom Mencius called 
the best archer in Wei, " he could not bear to slay the old 
Chief who had taught him the arts of war." Jung Lu has 
again memorialised the Old Buddha, reminding her of that 
well-known saying in the Spring and Autumn annals,^ which 
lays down that the persons of foreign Envoys are always 
inviolate v^thin the territories of any civilised State. This 
attack on the Legation, he says, is worse than an outrage ; 
it is a piece of stupidity which will be remembered against 
China for all time. Her Majesty appeared to think that, 

1 History of events under the Chou dynasty, by Confucius ; one of the 
Five Classics. 

288 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

because a small nation like the Transvaal could conquer a 
great Power like England, China must necessarily be even 
more successful in fighting the whole world ; but there was 
no analogy between the two cases. If peace were to be 
made at once, the situation might still be saved ; but if 
the Legations were demolished, there must be an end of 
Manchu rule. He warned Her Majesty solemnly, and she 
appears to be gradually coming to look at things from his 
point of view. These Boxers can certainly talk, but they do 
very little. 

Bad news has reached the palace to-day of the fighting 
around Tientsin, and Her Majesty is most anxious about it, 
though she still refuses to believe that the foreign brigands 
can possibly enter Peking. 

15th Day of the 6th Moon (11th July). — My neighbour 
Wen Lien, Comptroller-General of the Imperial Household, 
tells me that the Old Buddha is in a furious rage. She finds 
the heat trying, and yesterday she turned on the Heir 
Apparent and snubbed him badly for impertinence ; he had 
asked if he might be permitted to escort her to Jehol, leaving 
the Emperor to settle matters with his foreign friends in 
Peking. One of the young eunuchs tried to mollify her by 
reporting, whenever the report of a gun was heard, that 
another foreign devil had been killed, but as the Old Buddha 
observed, "there has been enough firing for the past few 
weeks to kill off every foreigner in China several times, and 
so far there is hardly anything to show for it." 

17th Day of the 6th Moon (13th July). — Jung Lu asked 
Her Majesty yesterday what she would do if the Boxers 
were defeated, and if Peking were captured by the foreigners. 
In reply, she quoted to him the words of Chia Yi, a sophist 
of the Han dynasty, in reference to the Court's diplomatic 
dealings with the Khan of the Hans : — 

"If the Emperor wishes to gain the allegiance of other 
countries, he can only do so by convincing their rulers that 

289 u 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

he possesses the three cardinal vh'tues of government, and 
by displaying the five allurements. 

These allurements are : ( 1 ) Presents of chariots and rich 
robes, to tempt the eye ; (2) rich food and banquets, to 
tempt the palate ; (3) musical maidens, to tempt the ear ; 
(4) fine houses and beautiful women, to tempt the instinct 
of luxury ; and (5) the presence of the Emperor at the table 
of the foreign ruler, to tempt his pride. 

The three cardinal virtues of government are: (1) to 
simulate affection ; (2) to express honeyed sentiments ; and 
(3) to treat one's inferiors as equals." 

Two years ago, said the Empress, she had invited the 
foreign ladies to her Court, and had noticed their delight at 
the reception she gave them, although she well knew that 
their sympathies were with the Emperor, and against her. 
She would again allure them to her side with rich gifts and 
honeyed words. ^ 

20th Day of the 6th Moon (16th July). — Bad news from 
Yli Lu ; Tientsin has been captured by the foreigners, who 
now swarm like locusts. Not one of the Grand Councillors 
dared to carry the news to Her Majesty, so Prince Tuan 
went in boldly, and informed her that the foreign devils had 
taken the city, because the Boxers had been negligent in 
the performance of their prescribed rites ; Peking, however, 
would always be perfectly safe from invasion. Early this 
morning Jung Lu had informed the Old Buddha that he 
had ascertained beyond doubt that the document, which 
purported to come from the Foreign Ministers, demanding 
her abdication, was a forgery. It had been prepared by 
Lien Wen-chung, a Secretary of the Grand Council, at 
Prince Tuan's orders. The Old Buddha was therefore in no 



1 How well and successfully she did it^ has been told in Miss Catherine 
A. Carl's book. With the Empress Dowager of China. The painting of her 
portrait for the St. Louis exhibition was in itself an example of Tzii Hsi's 
"cardinal virtues of government," which she practised with conspicuous 
success on the simple-minded wife of the American Minister, Mrs. Conger. 
{Vide Cordier, Relations de la Chine, Vol. HI., p. 423.) 

290 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

soft mood ; angrily she told Prince Tuan that, if the 
foreigners entered Peking, he would certainly lose his head. 
She was quite aware of his motives ; he wanted to secure 
the Regency, but she bade him beware, for, so long as she 
lived, there could be no other Regent. " Let him be 
careful, or his son would be expelled from the palace, and 
the family estates confiscated to the throne." His actions 
had indeed been worthy of the dog's ^ name he bore. 
Prince Tuan left the palace, and was heard to remark that 
"the thunderbolt had fallen too quickly for him to close 
his ears." 

Jung Lu has won over all the military commanders except 
Tung Fu-hsiang and his staff, and they have come to a 
general understanding that the bombardment of the 
Legations must cease. Jung Lu has explained, as his 
reason for not allowing the heavy artillery to be used, that 
it would inevitably have inflicted serious damage on the 
Imperial shrines and the Ancestral temple. 

The Old Buddha is sending presents to the Legations, 
water-melons, wine, vegetables, and ice, and she has expressed 
a wish that Prince Ch'ing should go and see the Foreign 
Ministers. 

They say that Hsii Ching-ch'eng is secretly communicating 
with the Legations. 

A messenger with twelve dispatches from the Legations 
was captured to-day and taken to Prince Chuang's Palace. 
Three of the twelve were in cipher and could not be 
translated by the Tsung Li Yamen interpreter, but from the 
others it was learned that the foreigners had lost over a 
hundred killed and wounded and that their provisions were 
running very low. 

Chi Shou-ch'eng has gone to T'ai-Yiian fu to see Yii Hsien, 

^ The second character of Prince Tuan's name contained the radical sign 
for dog, and was given him by the Emperor Hsien-Feng^ because he had 
been begotten during the period of mourning for his parent Tao-Kuang ; it 
being an offence, under Chinese law, for a son to be begotten during the 
twenty-seventh months of mourning for father or mother. 

291 u 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

his father-in-law. The latter has memorialised the Throne, 
reporting that he cunningly entrapped all the foreigners, cast 
them into chains and had every one decapitated in his 
Yamen. Only one woman had escaped, after her breasts 
had been cut off, and had hidden herself under the City wall. 
She was dead when they found her. 

Rain has fallen very heavily to-day. Liu Ta-chiao brought 
me 8 lbs. of pork from the Palace kitchen, and I sent a large 
bowl of it to my married sister. Towards evening a 
detachment of cavalry, with several guns, passed my door. 
They were Li Ping-heng's men, on their way to mount these 
guns on a platform above the Forbidden City wall, as a 
precaution against sorties by the foreigners. There has been 
heavy firing all night, and it is reported that foreign devils 
have been seen in the neighbourhood of the Ha-Ta Men. 

21st Day of the 6th Moon (17th July). — A lovely day. I 
walked over to call on Prince Li and Duke Lan. The 
latest rumour is that Yii Lu's troops are in flight and 
harrying the country side. They are said to be clamouring 
for their pay, which is months in arrears, and have plundered 
both Tungchou and Chang Chia-wan most thoroughly. Both 
the eastern gates of the City are now kept closed, and the 
northern gate (Anting men) is only opened occasionally. 

Yang Shun, the gate-keeper, has returned from his home 
at Pao-ti hsien, east of Peking, where he reports things fairly 
quiet. 

Li Ping-heng's troops are reported to have won a great 
victory and driven the barbarians to the sea. Nevertheless, 
heavy firing was heard to the south-eastward this afternoon. 

Duke Lan has gone out with a large force of Boxers to I 
search for converts reported to be in hiding in the temple of 
the Sun. 

27th Day of the 6th Moon (23rd July). — This morning 
Yiian Ch'ang and Hsli Ching-ch'eng handed in the third of 
their Memorials against the Boxers, in which they recom- 
mend the execution of several members of the Grand Council. 

292 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

Their valour seems to be more laudable than their discretion, 
especially as the Old Buddha is disposed once more to believe 
in the Boxers as the result of Li Ping-heng's audience with 
her yesterday. He came up from Hankow, and has now 
been appointed joint Commander, with Jung Lu, of the 
army of the North. He confidently assured her of his ability 
to take the Legations by storm, and repeatedly said that 
never again would the tutelary deities of the Dynasty suffer 
her to be driven forth, in humiliation, from her capital. 

I went across to Duke Lan's house this morning and found 
Prince Tuan and Li Ping-heng there. They were busy 
planning a renewed attack on the Legations, and Li was 
strongly in favour of mining from the Hanlin Academy side. 
He has advised the Empress Dowager that a mine should be 
sprung, as was done lately at the French Cathedral, and he 
is convinced that in the ensuing confusion the foreigners 
would be easily overwhelmed. 

After reading the latest Memorial of Hsii and Ytian, the 
Old Buddha observed, " These are brave men. I have never 
cared much for Hsli, but Yuan behaved weU in 1898 and 
warned me about K'ang Yu-wei and his plotting. Be that as 
it may, however, they have no business to worry me with 
these persistent and querulous questions. The Throne itself 
is fully competent to judge the character of its servants, and 
it is a gross misconception of duty for 'the acolyte to 
stride across the sacred vessels and show the priest how to 
slaughter the sacrificial beasts.'^ Desiring to deal leniently 
with the Memorialists, I command that my censure be 
communicated to them and that they take heed to refrain 
in future from troubling my ears with their petulant 
complainings." 

Srd Day of the 7th Moon (28th July).— The Old Buddha 
places much confidence in Li Ping-heng. Yesterday he and 
Kang Yi discovered that the word " to slay," in Her Majesty's 

1 A classical allusion, in common use, equivalent to " Ne sutor ultra 
crepidam." 

293 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Decree ordering the extermination of all foreigners, had been 
been altered to ''protect" by Yuan Ch'ang and Hsli Ching- 
ch'eng. I have just seen Kang Yi, and he says that Her 
Majesty's face was divine in its wrath. " They deserve the 
punishment meted out to Kao Ch'u-mi,"^ she said, "their 
limbs should be torn asunder by chariots driven in opposite 
directions. Let them be summarily decapitated." An Edict 
was forthwith issued, but no mention is made in it of the 
alteration of the Decree, as this is a matter affecting the 
nation's prestige ; the offenders are denounced only for 
having created dissensions in the Palace and favoured the 
cause of the foreigner. Both were executed this morning ; 
my son. En Ming, witnessed their death. It is most painful 
to me to think of the end of Yuan Ch'ang, for he had many 
sterling qualities ; as for Hsli, I knew him in the days when 
we were colleagues at the Grand Secretariat, and I never 
had a high opinion of the man. His corruption was 
notorious. Just before the sword of the executioner fell, 
Yiian remarked that " he hoped that the Sun might soon 
return to its place in the Heaven, and that the usurping 
Comet might be destroyed." By this he meant that Prince 
Tuan's malign influence had led the Empress Dowager to act 
against her own better instincts. Duke Lan, who was 
superintending the execution, angrily bade him be silent for 
a traitor, but Yiian fearlessly went on, " I die innocent. In 
years to come my name will be remembered with gratitude 
and respect, long after you evil-plotting Princes have met 
your well-deserved doom." Turning then to Hsii, he said, 
" We shall meet anon at the Yellow Springs.^ To die is 
only to come home." Duke Lan stepped forward as if to 
strike him, and the headsman quickly despatched them 
both. 

Sth Day of the 7th Moon (3rd August). — I have had much 

1 A traitor whose crime and punishment are recorded in the Spring and 
Autumn Annals. 

2 A classical expression, meaning the Spirit-world. 

294 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

trouble with my eldest son to-day. He has been robbing 
me lately of large sums, and when I rebuked him he had 
the audacity to reply that my duty to the Throne would 
make my suicide a fitting return for the benefits which I 
have received at its hands. 

Li Ping-heng has gone to the front to rally the troops and 
check the foreigners' advance. He has impeached Jung Lu 
but the Old Buddha has suppressed the Memorial. The 
Emperor thanked Jung Lu for his services, and the 
Commander-in-Chief replied that he of all the servants of 
the Throne never expected to receive praise from His 
Majesty, considering the events of the past two years. ^ 

nth Day of the 7th Moon (5th August).— The Old Buddha 
has commanded Jung Lu to arrange for escorting the 
foreigners to Tientsin, so that the advance of the Allies may 
be stopped. In this connection, I hear that not many days 
ago, # # # * persuaded Ch'i Hsiu to have a letter sent to 
the Foreign Ministers, inviting them to come, without 
escort of troops, to an interview with the Tsung Li Yamen, 
his idea being to have them all massacred on the way. 
Ch'i Hsiu thought the suggestion excellent, but, although 
several letters have been sent proposing it, the Ministers 
decline to leave the Legations. Meanwliile, there have been 
several fresh attacks on the Legations during the past 
few days. 

A foreign devil, half naked, was found yesterday in 
Hatamen Street. He kowtowed to everyone he met, high 
class or low, imploring even the rag-pickers to spare his life 
and give him a few cash. " We shall all be massacred soon," 
he said, "but I have done no wrong." One of Jung Lu's 
sergeants seized him and took him to the Commander-in- 
Chiefs residence. Instead of decapitating him, Jung Lu 
sent him back. This shows, however, the desperate straits 
to which the foreigners are reduced. 

15th Day of the 7th Moon (9th August). — Bad news from 

^ Referring to his part in the cotip d'etat of 1898. 
295 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

the South. Yii Lu's forces have been defeated and the 
foreigners are approaching nearer every day. The Old 
Buddha is meditating flight to Jehol, but Jung Lu strongly 
urges her to remain, even if the Allies should enter the 
City. Duke Lan scoffs at the idea of their being able to do 
so. One comfort is that, if they do come, they will not loot 
or kill. I remember well how good their discipline was 
forty years ago. I never stirred out of my house and not 
one of the barbarians ever came near it. We had a little 
difficulty about getting victuals, but the foreigners hardly 
came into the city, and did us no harm. 

16th Day of the 7th Moon (10th August).— My old 
colleague, Li Shan, whose house adjoins the French 
Cathedral, has been accused of making a subterranean 
passage and thus assisting the foreigners with supplies. He 
has been handed over to the Board of Punishments by Prince 
Tuan, without the knowledge of the Empress Dowager, 
together with Hsii Yung-yi and Lien Yuan. Prince Tuan 
has long had a grudge against Hsii for having expressed 
disapproval of the selection of the Heir Apparent. As to 
Lien, they say that his arrest is due to # * * # , and his 
offence is that he was on terms of intimacy with Yiian 
Ch'ang. All three prisoners were decapitated this morning. 
Hsii Yung-yi was older than I am (seventy -nine) and his 
death is a lamentable business indeed. But he went to his 
death calmly and without complaint when he learned that 
the Empress Dowager knew nothing of the matter and that 
it was Prince Tuan's doing alone. " The power of the 
usurper," said he, " is short-lived. As for me, I am glad to 
die before the foreigners take Peking." The Old Buddha 
will be very wrath when she hears that two Manchus have 
thus been put to death. Li Shan and Jung Lu were old 
friends. \ 

A certain General Liu, from Shansi, assured the Empress 
this morning that he would undertake to demolish the 
Legations in three days, and this would so alarm the allies 

296 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

that their advance would certainly be stopped. A furious 
bombardment has just begun. 

The Boxers have proved themselves utterly useless. I 
always said they never would do anything. 

l^th Day of the 7th Moon {12th August). — The foreigners 
are getting nearer and nearer. Yli Lu shot himself with a 
revolver on the 12th at Ts'ai Ts'un. He had taken refuge in 
a coffin shop, of all ill-omened places ! His troops had been 
utterly routed thrice, at Pei Tsang, Yang Ts'un and at 
Ts'ai Ts'un. Li Ping-heng reached Ho-hsi wu on the 14th, 
but in spite of all his effiarts to rally our forces, the two 
divisional leaders, Chang Ch'un-fa and Ch'en Tse-lin, refused 
to fight. Li Ping-heng therefore took poison. Jung Lu 
went to-day to break the news to the Old Buddha : 
sovereign and Minister wept together at the disasters which 
these Princes and rebels have brought upon our glorious 
Empire. Jung Lu refrained from any attempt at self- 
justification ; he is a wise man. The Old Buddha said she 
would commit suicide and make the Emperor do the same, 
rather than leave her capital. Jung Lu besought her to 
take his advice, which was to remain in Peking and to issue 
Decrees ordering the decapitation of Prince Tuan and his 
followers, thus proving her innocence to the world. But she 
seems to cling still to a hope that the supernatural powers of 
the Boxers may save Peking, and so the furious bombard- 
ment of the Legations continues. 

Eight audiences have been given to-day to Jung Lu and 
five to Prince Tuan. All the other members of the Grand 
Council sat with folded hands, suggesting nothing. 

20th Day (lUh August), 5 p.m. — Tungchou has fallen and 
now the foreigners have begun to bombard the city. The 
Grand Council has been summoned to five meetings to-day 
in the Palace of Peaceful Longevity : Her Majesty is 
reported to be starting for Kalgan. At the hour of the 
Monkey (4 p.m.) Duke Lan burst into the Palace, 
unannounced, and shouted, " Old Buddha, the foreign devils 

297 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

have come ! " Close upon his footsteps came Kang Yi, who 
reported that a large force of turbaned soldiery were 
encainped in the enclosure of the Temple of Heaven. 
" Perhaps they are our Mahommedan braves from Kansuh," 
said Her Majesty, "come to demolish the Legations?" 
" No," replied Kang Yi, " they are foreign devils. 
Your Majesty must escape at once, or they will murder 

you." 

Later, midnight. — There has just been an Audience given 
to the Grand Council in the Palace, at which Kang Yi, 
Chao Shu-ch'iao and Wang Wen-shao were present. 
*' Where are the others ? " said the Old Buddha. " Gone, I 
suppose, everyone to his own home, leaving us here. Mother 
and Son,^ to look after ourselves as best we may. At all 
events, you three must now accompany me on my journey." 
Turning to Wang Wen-shao, she added : — " You are too 
old, and I could not bear the thought of exposing you to 
such hardships. Make such speed as you can and join me 
later." Then to the other two she said, " You two are good 
riders. It will be your duty never to lose sight of me for an 
instant. Wang Wen-shao replied, "I will hasten after Your 
Majesty to the best of my ability." The Emperor, who 
seemed surprisingly alert and vigorous, here joined in, " Yes, 
by all means, follow as quickly as you can." This ended 
the audience, but the actual hour of Her Majesty's 
departure remains uncertain. Jung Lu's attendance was 
impossible because he was busy trying to rally our forces. 

2lst Day {15th August). — Wen Lien tells me that the Old 
Buddha arose this morning at the Hour of the Tiger 
(3 A.M.) after only an hour's rest, and dressed herself 
hurriedly in the common blue cloth garments of a peasant 
woman, which she had ordered to be prepared. For 
the first time in her hfe, her hair was done up in the 
Chinese fashion. " Who could ever have believed that 
it would come to this ? " she said. Three common carts 
^ The expression is figurative. 
298 



DIAKY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 



I'l 



4f 



t 

A 

i 

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t 



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4^ 

It 
It 



-at 









J. 



fi; 









Facsimile of a Fragment of the Diary. 



299 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

were brought into the Palace ; their drivers wore no official 
hats. 

All the Concubines were summoned to appear before Her 
Majesty at 3.30 a.m. ; she had previously issued a decree 
that none of them would accompany her for the present. 
^ The Pearl Concubine, who has always been insubordinate to 
the Old Buddha, came with the rest and actually dared to 
suggest that the Emperor should remain in Peking. The 
Empress was in no mood for argument. Without a 
moment's hesitation, she shouted to the eunuchs on duty, 
" Throw this wretched minion down the well ! " At this 
the Emperor, who was greatly grieved, fell on his knees in 
supplication, but the Empress angrily bade him desist, 
saying that this was no time for bandying words. " Let her 
die at once," she said, "as a warning to all undutiful 
children, and to those ' hsiao ' birds^ who, when fledged, 
peck out their own mother's eyes." So the eunuchs Li and 
Sung took the Pearl Concubine and cast her down the large 
well which is just outside the Ning Shou Palace. 

Then to the Emperor, who stood trembling with grief and 
wrath, she said : " Get into your cart and hang up the 
screen, so that you be not recognised " (he was wearing a 
long gown of black gauze and black cloth trousers). Swiftly 
then the Old Buddha gave her orders. " P'u Lun, you will 
ride on the shaft of the Emperor's cart and look after him. 
I shall travel in the other cart, and you, P'u Chiin (the 
Heir Apparent) will ride on the shaft. Li Lien-ying, I 
know you are a poor rider, but you must shift as best you 
can to keep up with us." At this critical moment it seemed 
as if the Old Buddha alone retained her presence of mind. 
"Drive your hardest," she said to the carters, "and if 
any foreign devil should stop you, say nothing. I will speak 
to them and explain that we are but poor country folk, 
fleeing to our homes. Go first to the Summer Palace." 
Thereupon the carts started, passing out through the 
^ A species of owl — classical reference. 
300 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

northern gate of the Palace (The Gate of Military Prowess) 
while all the members of the Household and the Imperial 
Concubines prostrated themselves, wishing their Majesties a 
long life. Only the three Grand Councillors followed on 
horseback, a rendezvous having been arranged for other 
officials at the Summer Palace. My neighbour Wen Lien, 
the Comptroller of the Household, followed their Majesties 
at a distance, to see them safely out of the city. They 
left by the " Te-sheng-men," or Gate of Victory, on the 
north-west side of the city, where for a time their 
carts were blocked in the dense mass of refugees passing 
out that way. 

4 P.M. — The Sacred Chariot of Her Majesty reached the 
Summer Palace at about 8 a.m. and Their Majesties 
remained there an hour. Meanwhile, at 6 a.m.. Prince 
Ch'ing, just before starting for the Summer Palace, 
sent a flag of truce to the Japanese Pigmies who were 
bombarding the city close to the " Chi Hua " Gate on the 
east of the city. The gate was thrown open and the troops 
swarmed in. 

My son En Ming was on duty at the Summer Palace with 
a few of his men, when the Imperial party arrived, all 
bedraggled and dust-begrimed. The soldiers at the Palace 
gate could not believe that this was really their Imperial 
mistress until the Old Buddha angrily asked whether they 
failed to recognise her. The carts were driven in through 
the side entrance, and tea was served. Her Majesty gave 
orders that all curios, valuables, and ornaments were to 
be packed at once and sent off to Jehol ; at the same time 
she despatched one of the eunuchs to Peking to tell the 
Empress^ to bury quickly every scrap of treasure in the 
Forbidden City, hiding it in the courtyard of the Ning 
Shou Palace. 

The Princes Tuan, Ching, Na, and Su joined Their 

^ Consort of Kuang-Hsiij now Empress Dowager, known by the honorific 
title of Lung-yii. 

301 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Majesties at the Summer Palace ; a few Dukes were there 
also, as well as Wu Shu-mei and Pu Hsing of the higher 
officials. About a dozen Secretaries from the different 
Boards, and three Clerks to the Grand Council, accompanied 
the Court from this point. General Ma Yu-k'un, with a 
force of 1,000 men escorted Their Majesties to Kalgan, 
and there were, in addition, several hundreds of Prince 
Tuan's " Heavenly Tiger " Bannermen, fresh from their 
fruitless attacks on the Legations. Jung Lu is still 
endeavouring to rally his troops. 

I have just heard of the death of my old friend, Hsil 
T'ung, the Imperial Tutor and Grand Secretary. He has 
hanged himself in his house and eighteen of his womenfolk 
have followed his example. He was a true patriot and a 
fine scholar. Alas, alas ! From all sides I hear the same 
piteous story ; the proudest of the Manchus have come to 
the same miserable end. The betrothed of Prince Ch'un, 
whom he was to have married next month, has committed 
suicide, with all her family. It is indeed pitiful.^ 

Thus, for the second time in her life, the Old Buddha has 
had to flee from her Sacred City, like the Son of Heaven in 
the Chou Dynasty, who " fled with dust-covered head." The 
failure of the southern provinces to join in the enterprise has 
ruined us. Prince Tuan was much to blame in being anti- 
Chinese. As Confucius said, " By the lack of broad-minded 
tolerance in small matters, a great design has been frustrated." 
After all, Jung Lu was right — ^the Boxers' so-called magic 
was nothing but child's talk. They were in reality no 
stronger than autumn thistledown. Alas, the bright flower 
of spring does not bloom twice ! 

My wife and the other women, stupidly obstinate like all 
females, intend to take opium. I cannot prevent them from 
doing so, but, for myself, I have no intention of doing any- 

1 Prince Ch'un subsequently married Jung Lu's daughter, by special 
command of the Empress Dowager. 

302 




Daughters of a Hu;h Manchu Official of the Court. 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 

thing so foolish. Already the foreign brigands are looting in 
other quarters of the city, but they will never find my hidden 
treasure, and I shall just remain here, old and feeble as I am. 
My son. En Ch'u, has disappeared since yesterday, and 
nearly all my servants have fled. There is no one to 
prepare my evening meal. 

{Here the Diary ends. The old man tuas murdered by his 
eldest son that same evening; all his ■wom^en folk had 
previously taken poison and died. ) 



Vermilion Decree of H.M. Kiiang Hsil, 24<th day, 12th Moon 

of 25th year {January, 1900), making Prince Tuansson 

Heir Apparent. 

" In days of our tender infancy we succeeded by adoption 
to the Great Inheritance, and were favoured by the Empress 
Dowager, who graciously ' suspended the curtain ' and 
administered the Government as Regent, earnestly labouring 
the while at our education in all matters. Since we assumed 
the reins of government, the nation has passed through severe 
crises, and our sole desire has been to govern the Empire 
wisely in order to requite the material benevolence of Her 
Majesty as well as to fulfil the arduous task imposed on us 
by His late Majesty. 

" But since last year our constitution has been sore-stricken 
with illness, and we have undergone much anxiety lest the 
business of the State should suffer in consequence. Reflecting 
on the duty we owe to our sacred ancestors and to the 
Empire, we have therefore besought Her JMajesty to 
administer the Government during the past year. Our 
sickness has so far shown no signs of improvement, and 
it has prevented us from performing all the important 
sacrifices at the ancestral shrines and at the altars of the 
gods of the soil. 

" And now at this acute crisis, the spectacle of Her 
Majesty, labouring without cease in the profound seclusion 

303 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

of her Palace, without relaxation or thought of rest, has 
filled us with dismay. We can neither sleep nor eat in the 
anxiety of our thoughts. Reflecting on the arduous labours 
of our ancestors from whom this great Heritage has descended 
to us, we are overwhelmed by our unfitness for this task of 
government. We bear in mind (and the fact is well known 
to all our subjects) that when first we succeeded by adoption 
to the Throne, we were honoured with a Decree from the 
Empress Dowager to the effect that so soon as we should 
have begotten an heir, he should become the adopted son 
of His Majesty T'ung-Chih. But our protracted sickness 
renders it impossible for us to hope for a son, so that His 
late Majesty remains without heir. This question of the 
succession is of transcendent importance, and our grief, as 
we ponder the situation, fills us with feelings of the 
deepest self-abasement, and renders illusive all hope of our 
recovery from this sickness. 

" We have accordingly prostrated ourselves in supplication 
before our Sacred Mother, begging that she may be pleased 
to select some worthy person from among the Princes of the 
Blood as heir to His Majesty T'ung-Chih, in order that the 
Great Inheritance may duly revert to him. As the result of 
our repeated entreaties Her Majesty has graciously con- 
sented, and has appointed P'u Chiin, son of Prince Tuan, as 
heir by adoption to His late Majesty. Our gratitude at this 
is unbounded, and obediently we obey her behests, hereby 
appointing P'u Chiin to be Heir Apparent and successor to 
the Throne. Let this Decree be made known throughout 
the Empire." 

Seldom has history seen so tragically pathetic a document. 
It was not only a confession of his own illegality and an 
abdication, but his death-warrant, clear writ for all men to 
read. And the poor victim must perforce thank his execu- 
tioner and praise the " maternal benevolence " of the woman 
whose uncontrollable love of power had wrecked his life from 
the cradle. 



304 



DIARY OF HIS EXCELLENCY CHING SHAN 



Memorial from the Censorate at Pehing to the Throne at 
Hsi-an, describing the arrest of En Hai, the murdei^er of the 

German Minister, Baron von Ketteler?- 

This Memorial affords a striking illustrarion of the 
sympathy which animated, and still animates, many of those 
nearest to the Throne in regard to the Boxers and their 
anti-foreign crusade, and their appreciation of the real 
sentiments of the Empress Dowager, even in defeat. It 
also throws light on the Chinese official's idea of heroism in 
a soldier. 

" A spy in Japanese employ, engaged in searching for 
looted articles in the pawnshops of the district in Japanese 
military occupation, found among the unredeemed pledges 
in one shop a watch bearing Baron von Ketteler's mono- 
gram. The pawnbroker said that it had been pledged by a 
bannerman named En Hai, who lived at a carters' inn of the 
Tartar city. This spy was a man named Te Lu, a writer 
attached to the Manchu Field Force, of the 8th squad of 
the ' Ting ' Company. He went at once and informed the 
Japanese, who promptly sent a picquet to the inn 
mentioned. Two or three men were standing about in the 
courtyard, and the soldiers asked one of them whether En 
Hai was there. ' I'm the man,' said he, whereupon they 
took him prisoner. Under examination, En was perfectly 
calm and showed no sort of emotion. The presiding 
Magistrate enquired ' Was it you who slew the German 
Minister ? ' He replied ' I received orders from my 
Sergeant to kill every foreigner that came up the street. I 
am a soldier, and I only know it is my duty to obey orders. 
On that day I was with my men, some thirty of them, in 
the street, when a foreigner came along in a sedan chair. 
At once I took up my stand a little to the side of the street, 
and, taking careful aim, fired into the chair. Thereupon the 

1 This Memorial was never published officially, and Tzu Hsi refrained from 
issuing a Rescript thereto ; it was forwarded by an official with the Court 
at Hsi-an to one of the vernacular papers at Shanghai, which published it. 

305 X 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

bearers fled : we went up to the chair, dragged the foreigner 
out, and saw that he was dead. I felt a watch in his breast 
pocket and took it as my lawful share ; my comrades appro- 
priated a revolver, some rings and other articles. 1 never 
thought that this watch would lead to my detection, but I 
am glad to die for having killed one of the enemies of my 
country. Please behead me at once.' 

" The interpreter asked him whether he was drunk at the 
time. He laughed and said, ' Wine's a fine thing, and I 
can put away four or five catties at a time, but that day I 
had not touched a drop. Do you suppose I would try to 
screen myself on the score of being in liquor ? ' This 
En Hai appears to have been an honest fellow ; his words 
were brave and dignified, so that the bystanders all realised 
that China is not without heroes in the ranks of her army. 
On the following day he was handed over to the Germans, 
and beheaded on the scene of his exploit. We, your Memo- 
rialists, feel that Your Majesties should be made acquainted 
with his meritorious behaviour, and we therefore report the 
above facts. We are of opinion that his name should not 
be permitted to fall into oblivion, and we trust that Your 
Majesties may be pleased to confer upon him honours as in 
the case of one who has fallen in battle with his face to the 
foe." 



306 



XVIII 
IN MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

The Memorial of the Censors given in the last chapter, 
recording the arrest and execution of the Manchu soldier 
who shot the German Minister defenceless in his chair, took 
occasion to congratulate the Empress and the nation on 
possessing such brave defenders ; and to do the man justice, 
he met his end with a fine courage. But with fuller know- 
ledge and a clearer insight, the scholars of the Empire 
might well put forward claims to real heroism, moral courage 
of the rarest kind, in the case of Yiian Chang and Hsii 
Ching-ch'eng, the two Ministers who, as we have shown, so 
nobly laid down their lives for what they knew to be their 
country's highest good. So long as China can breed men 
like these, so long as the Confucian system contains moral 
force sufficient to produce Stoic scholars of this type, the 
nation has no cause to despair of its future. We make no 
apology for insisting on the claims of these two men to our 
grateful admiration, or for reproducing their last Memorials, 
in which they warned the Old Buddha of her folly, and, by 
denouncing the Boxers, braved all the forces of anarchy and 
savagery which surged about the Dragon Throne. Already 
their good name stands high in the esteem of their country- 
men. Et prevalehit : their courage and unselfish patriotism 
have been recognised by their canonisation in the Pantheon 
of China's worthies, under an Edict of the present Regent. 

307 x2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Shortly after their execution the following circular letter 
pour f aire part was addressed by the sons of Yiian Ch'ang to 
the relatives and friends of the family : — 

Notice sent hy the Yilan fawiily to their relatives regarding 
the death of Yuan CKang, September, 1900. 

After the usual conventional formulee of grief and self- 
abasement, this circular letter proceeds as follows : — 

" We realise that it was because of his outspoken courage 
in resisting the evil tendencies of the times that our parent 
met his untimely death, and we now submit the following 
report of the circumstances for the information of our 
relatives and friends. 

" When, in the 5th Moon of this year, the Boxer madness 
commenced, our late father, in his capacity as a Minister of 
the Foreign Office, felt extremely anxious in regard to the 
situation, and his anxiety was shared by his colleague, Hsii 
Ching-ch'eng. On three occasions when the Princes and 
Ministers were received in audience, my father expressed his 
opinion to the Throne that the Boxers were utterly unreliable. 
' I have been in person,' he said, ' to Legation Street, and 
have seen the corpses of Boxers lying on all sides. They had 
most certainly been shot, proving that their unholy rites 
availed them nothing. They should be exterminated and not 
used as Government forces.' On hearing this advice, the 
Emperor, turning to Hsii Ching-ch'eng, enquired whether 
China is strong enough to resist the foreigners or not, and 
other questions bearing on the position of the Foreign Powers 
abroad. Hsii replied without hesitation that China was far 
too weak to think of fighting the whole world. His Majesty 
was so much impressed by what he had heard that he caught 
hold of Hsii by the sleeve and seemed much distressed. Hsii 
sorrowfully left the presence, and proceeded with our father 
to draft the first of their joint Memorials. 

" Later on, when the bombardment of the Legations was 
in full swing, our father observed to Hsii, ' This slaughtering 
of Envoys is a grave breach of all international law. If the 
Legations are destroyed and the Powers then send an 

308 



IN MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

expedition to avenge them, what will become of our 
country ? We must oppose this folly, you and I, even at 
the risk of our lives.' So they put in their second Memorial, 
which never appeared in the Gazette, but which so frightened 
the Boxer princes and Ministers that they slackened for a 
while in their attacks on the foreigners. The preservation of 
the Legations on this occasion was really due to this Memorial, 
and from this moment the enemies of Hsii and our father 
became more than ever bent on revenge. 

'' In the last few days of the 6th Moon (July 15th to 25th) 
the foreign armies were massing for their march on Peking, 
and our father said to Hsii, ' We are only waiting for death. 
Why should we delay it any longer ? ' So they handed in 
their third Memorial. In this document they declared that 
the situation was becoming desperate, that even the Princes 
of the Blood and the Ministers of the Grand Council had 
come to applaud these Boxers, and to assist in deceiving 
their Majesties. There was only one way left to avoid dire 
peril and hold back the foreign armies, and that was to put 
an end to these Boxers, and to do this it was necessary to 
begin by beheading their leaders among the Princes and 
Ministers. Having sent in this Memorial, our father said to 
our mother ' Things have now come to such a pass that, 
whether I speak out or keep silence, my death is certain. 
Rather than be murdered by these treacherous Ministers, I 
prefer to die at the hands of the public executioner. If only 
by my death I can convince the Throne of the peril of the 
situation, I shall die gladly.' 

" We all crowded round our father and wept. Calmly he 
spake to us, saying, ' I am giving my life for the State. 
What other thought have I now? You must decide for 
yourselves whether you will remain in Peking or return to 
our home in the south.' He then gave us a solemn admoni- 
tion in regard to our duties of loyalty and patriotism. 

" On the second day of the 7th Moon, (July 27th) he was 
arrested and taken to the Board of Punishments. Next day, 
at 1. p.m., ' his duty was finally consummated.' The 
execution ground was crowded with a mob of Boxers. 
Angrily some of them asked him why he had borne a grudge, 
and spoken evil, against the ' Patriotic Harmony Militia.' 

309 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Our father mockingly answered ' A statesman speaks out in 
obedience to a sense of duty. How should such as you 
understand ? ' 

" We were informed by the gaolers that our father and 
Hsii had chatted quietly and contentedly in prison. They 
had asked for paper and ink, and had written over twenty 
sheets, but this document was found by the Boxers and 
burned. Was it, we wonder, a valedictory Memorial to the 
Throne, or a last mandate to their families ? We cannot say, 
and we shall never know. Alas, alas, that we, undutiful sons 
as we are, should have to bear this crowning sorrow ! We 
have failed in our duty both as sons and as men. Our 
mother still survives, and our father's burial remains to be 
attended to, so that we feel bound to go on, drawing the 
breath of pain, so as to perform our duty to our lamented 
sire. On the 8th of this Moon we propose to carry his 
remains to a place of temporary sepulture in the Garden of 
' Wide Friendship ' at Hangchow, and shall escort our 
mother to her home. We shall set up the tablet of our 
father m a building adjoining his temporary grave, and there 
weep and lament." 

If to meet an undeserved doom with high courage is 
heroism, then these men were indeed heroes. In reading 
their Memorials — and especially the last of them — one is 
inevitably and forcibly reminded of the best examples in 
Greek and Roman history. In their high-minded philosophy, 
their instinctive morality and calm contemplation of death, 
there breathes the spirit of Socrates, Seneca and Pliny, the 
spirit which has given European civilisation its classical 
models of noble fortitude and many of its finest inspirations, 
the spirit which, shorn of its quality of individualism, has 
been the foundation of Japan's greatness. In the last of 
these three Memorials, their swan-song, there rings the true 
heroic note, clear-seeing, earnest and fearless. The first, 
though forwarded in the name of Yiian alone, was drafted 
conjointly with Hsii Ching-ch'eng. Hsii, well-known in 
diplomatic circles by his having been Minister in St. Peters- 
burg and Berlin, had not the same high reputation for 

310 



IN MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

personal integrity and disinterested patriotism as his friend, 
but whatever his former faihngs, he made full amends by the 
unflinching nobility of purpose that led to his death. 

Yuan Cli'ang's First Memorial against the Boxers, Dated 

20th June, 1900. 

"Ever since the 16th day of the Moon (June 12th), when 
the Boxers first burst into Peking, your Majesties have been 
giving audience daily to all the Princes and Ministers of 
State. The weight of the nation's sorrow has afflicted your 
Sacred Persons, and you have sought the advice of us, your 
humble servants, in your anxious desire that a policy may be 
devised whereby peace should be restored to the shrines 
of your ancestors and to the Chinese people. But we have 
failed so far to avert calamity, and thus to bring comfort to 
our sorrowing Sovereigns ; grievous indeed are our short- 
comings, which fill us with shame and dismay. 

" Humbly I recall to your Majesties' memories a Decree 
which was issued in the 7th Moon of the 13th year of Chia- 
Ch'ing. Therein it is recorded that, in the provinces of 
Shantung and Honan, a dangerous conspiracy had been 
organised by evil-doers under the name of the 'Eight 
Diagram ' Society. These latter day Boxers are, in fact, 
merely the descendants of the ' White Lily ' sect, and your 
Majesties have already decreed their extermination. It was 
only last year that the District Magistrate of Wu Chiao, in 
Shantung, drew up a memorandum giving a very full 
account of this sect, and two months ago the Governor 
of Shantung (Yiian Shih-k'ai), replying to your Majesties' 
enquiries, reported that these Boxers were in no way 
deserving of Imperial favour, and could never be enrolled as 
Government troops. No statement could be more explicit. 
Furthermore, the ex-Governor, Yti Hsien, reporting in 
connection with the case of a leader of this sect named 
Chu Hung-teng, or ' Chu of the Red Lamp,' stated that 
this impostor claimed to be a descendant of the Ming 
Dynasty ; he had so worked upon the ignorant people that 
the whole district was in a state of unrest, and these treason- 
able proceedings increased and spread until the Imperial 

311 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

forces arrested and executed the ringleaders. Their purely 
mythical claims to invulnerability were clearly disproved by 
the fact that their execution presented no difficulties. 

" When seeking information on this subject last year, I 
was informed by General Ch'eng Wen-ping that five years 
ago (in 1895) he was stationed at a post on the Chihli 
frontier, infested by robbers, who there went by the name 
of the ' Golden Bell ' Society, and were brothers of the 
' Golden Lamp.' On one occasion some fifty of these men 
desired to join General Cheng's forces, but upon his putting 
their alleged powers to the test, by firing bullets at them and 
stabbing them with swords, blood flowed in the most natural 
manner, so that these magic workers died. I mention the 
fact to show the absurdity of this superstition ; it proves, 
beyond doubt, that the organisers of these Societies are 
dangerous and treasonable rogues, harbouring evil designs 
against the Dynasty, especially when they claim to be 
descendants of the Mings. , They have, however, collected 
an enormous following, and should be dealt with as rebels, 
which they undoubtedly are. 

"Last year, in the 11th Moon, 13th day, your Majesties 
granted me audience, and I reported the above facts, adding 
that the alleged anti-Christian propaganda of these Boxers 
was merely a pretext, and that their treasonable aims 
justified their immediate extermination. Subsequently Yiian 
Shih-k'ai, then newly appointed Governor, did his duty 
in suppressing the movement, so that several Boxer societies 
were broken up or destroyed. Once more peace reigned, so 
that the gentry and literati of the province, who for a time 
had believed in the Boxers and had accused the Governor of 
ruthless methods, were forced to admit that he had acted 
rightly and that they had been misled. Who could have 
supposed that the suppression of the movement in Shantung 
would be followed by its spreading and increasing in Chihli ? 
The Viceroy (Yti Lu) must undoubtedly be blamed for this ; 
he has allowed the canker to grow without check, playing the 
part of an indifferent spectator. Latterly, after these Boxers 
had murdered the Magistrate of Lai Shui, the Viceroy 
appeared to realise, for the first time, that their professed 
campaign against the Christians was merely a cloak for 

312 



IN MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

rebellion. He telegraphed, therefore, recommending their 
suppression. But there were differences of opinion at Court, 
and nothing was decided. Other districts became speedily 
affected with the evil, and for no other reason than that the 
rebels of Lai Shui had escaped without punishment. They 
grew bolder and bolder, until finally they tore up the railway 
lines and destroyed the telegraphs throughout the province, 
although both are Government property, upon which vast 
sums of the public money have been spent. Deplorable, 
indeed, that one morning's work of rebels should witness the 
loss of millions of taels ! They have also destroyed many 
Christian churches, for which the State will have to pay 
heavily hereafter. 

" I numbly submit that this fierce outbreak of the Boxers 
against Christians is a matter of deadly peril to the Empire. 
By our laws. Magistrates are expected to administer justice 
without fear or favour ; there is no distinction to be made 
between Christians and non- Christians, and it should 
certainly not be permitted that evil-doers should pursue their 
ends on any plea of religious zeal. And now, within the 
last few days, these rebels have even dared to invade our 
Capital, and their armed mob profanes the very chariot 
wheels of the Throne. Arson and murder are their work ; 
they have burned the churches and attacked the Legations. 
Your Majesties' Palace is shaking to its foundations, as by an 
earthquake. For such deeds there is no penalty but death ; 
clemency in such a case were folly. 

" On the 20th day of this Moon they set fire to more than 
a thousand shops outside the Main Gate, so that the wealth- 
iest quarter of the city is now a hideous desert. Nine out of 
every ten inhabitants are fleeing from the city, and hardly a 
shop remains open. There is no money forthcoming from 
the provinces wherewith to pay our troops. Words cannot 
describe the utter desolation prevailing on all sides. In 
allowing these rioters to stalk through the land, breathing 
slaughter and plunder, we were making ourselves a byeword 
and an object of derision throughout the civilised world. The 
ministers of the foreign Powers, alarmed by the Boxers' wild 
threats, have been compelled, by the necessities of their 
situation, to bring up Legation guards, but these only 

313 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

amount to four hundred and ten men altogether, and the 
object of their coming is clearly not offensive, but defensive 
only. 

" On the 16th day (June 12th) Ch'i Hsiu and other members 
of the Grand Council were instructed by your Majesty (the 
Empress Dowager) to have compliments and expressions of 
sympathy sent to the foreign Ministers and their wives. This 
act of benevolent courtesy was gratefully recognised. They 
were fully alive to the bountiful measure of protection thus 
extended to them in your Majesty's clemency ; it penetrated 
to their very marrow. The Ministers then informed your 
Majesty that their Legation guards have been brought up 
solely as a precaution, and they have no thought of interfer- 
ing in the domestic affairs of our country. They give the 
most solemn assurances, invoking the sun as witness and 
pointing to heaven, that, so soon as these disturbances are 
at an end, their troops will immediately be withdrawn. 
There is no reason to suspect them of any treachery or evil 
purpose. It should be our immediate aim to rid the Tartar 
city of the presence of these rebels, in order not only to 
reassure the minds of our own people, but to relieve the 
anxiety of the foreigners. If we do this, there will be no 
further talk of the foreign Powers sending more troops ; if we 
crush the rebellion ourselves, there would be no need of 
foreign co-operation to that end. Surely the wisdom of this 
course is self-evident." {Here follow certain suggestions for 
Police and military measures.) 

" If it be objected that the destruction of so vast a number 
of Boxers is impracticable, I venture to reply that the present 
situation has been entirely brought about by a few ringleaders, 
and that the majority of the Boxers are simply ignorant 
peasantry. If, on the other hand, it be maintained that these 
rebels are in possession of magical secrets which confer upon 
them supernatural powers, 1 would venture to remind your 
Majesties of Chang Chio's ' Yellow Turban ' sect, which 
flourished towards the end of the Han Dynasty, and of the 
historic case of P'an Kuang, the ' head-breaker ' of the Yuan 
Dynasty ; both of these men, though possessing supernatural 
powers, nevertheless lost their heads. One of the principal 
reasons for the alleged invulnerability of these Boxer bandits 

314 



m MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

is that in the day time they lie low ; it is at night that 
they display activity, and call upon their deities to succour 
them. All the magical arts which they profess — their 
incantations, charms, invocations of spirits, table-turning, 
and the 'five demon' trick — are merely cheap devices of 
useless sorcery. Let them encounter any lethal weapon, let 
them be struck by cannon or rifle bullet, and they fall dead 
upon the spot. Can it be seriously maintained that they are 
really safe from bullets when it is notorious that a large 
number of them were shot by the foreign troops on the 
17th day of this Moon (June 13th), when they began their 
attack upon the Legations ? Only yesterday over forty 
Boxers were shot dead in Shuai Fu lane,^ and theii: altar was 
destroyed. 

" The population of Peking numbers close upon a million, 
and, with the exception of these wretched mobs or Boxers, 
they are all loyal to the Throne and law-abiding. The 
capture and execution of these Boxers would vindicate the 
majesty of the law, and tranquillise the minds of the people ; 
the courage of the rebels would wane as that of the 
respectable community increased. Once rid Peking of the 
Boxers, and the Legations will gratefully recognise the 
efficacy of your Majesty's divine protection, and their 
feelings towards you will be as towards a second Creator. 
The reinforcements of the foreign guards could then reason- 
ably be stopped, or withdrawn, at an early date, there being 
clearly no further necessity for their presence. 

" In conclusion it is written in the Book of Ceremonies of 
the Chou Dynasty ' that the existence of anarchy in a State 
necessitates the adoption of the death penalty ' ; also in the 
Canon of History it is written ' that there is a time when 
the infliction of capital punishment becomes a sacred duty.' 
It would therefore appear to be clearly proved that these 
Boxers should properly be exterminated, and that any further 
continuance of procrastination or of evasive measures, such as 
their enrolment in the army, will be utterly unavailing. The 
foreign Powers are strong, and their indignation has reached 
extreme limits. Should they now unite in measures of 

1 A lane four hundred yards north of the glacis which now surrounds the 
Legation quarter. 

315 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

retaliation, indescribable disasters await us. Instead of 
allowing the foreigners to suppress the Boxers, which 
would mean much fighting and bloodshed in and around 
Peking, the slaughter of many innocent persons ('jade and 
common stone perishing together in one catastrophe '), let 
us rather suppress the movement ourselves, and thus close 
the mouths of our detractors and those who criticise our 
Empire. Thus only will the ancestral shrines escape 
desecration, and the people enjoy untold benefits. 

"The Grand Secretary, Jung Lu, is patriotic and loyal. 
If your Majesties will but grant him full powers, success 
will speedily be attained. Diplomatic difficulties can easily 
be overcome by careful attention to the exigencies of the 
moment. Urging upon your Majesties the essential fact 
that in undivided control of authority Ues our only safe- 
guard against dire catastrophe, I now beg humbly to submit 
this my Memorial, laying bare my innermost feelings, and 
ask that your Majesties' divine wisdom may consider and 
decide the matter." 



Tlie Second Memorial of Yiian Ch'ang and Hsu Ching- 

dieng, July Sth. 

" Ever since, on the 24th day of last Moon, the German 
Minister von Ketteler was killed by the Boxers, the latter 
have been besieging the Legations, and the Kansuh troops 
under Tung Fu-hsiang have been their willing accom- 
plices in perpetrating every kind of evil. Countless is the 
number of our people, residing near the Legations, who 
have suffered death at their hands. Practically every house 
in the eastern quarter of the city, whether public or private 
property, has been mercilessly plundered. 

" The Boxers originally proclaimed that their mission was 
to pay off old scores against the Christians ; they then 
proceeded to include the Legations in their attacks. From 
the Legations they have extended their sphere of activity, 
directing their operations against our officials and the 
common people. That a mutinous soldiery and mobs of 
rebels should be permitted to run riot over our Capital, and 

316 



IN MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

work their evil will upon the people, is indeed a circum- 
stance unparalleled in our history. 

" When the siege began it was their boast that, within 
twenty-four hours, not a single Legation would remain 
standing, nay more, Tung Fu-hsiang has repeatedly boasted 
that they are already nothing more than a heap of ashes. 
As a matter of fact, however, nearly a month has passed, 
and whereas scarcely a foreign soldier has been killed, the 
entire Legation quarter lies strewn with the corpses of these 
Boxers. Where now the proud boast, with which they 
deluded simple folk, that their magic arts rendered them 
immune from bullet wounds ? If, after a month's effort, 
fifty thousand bandits are unable to capture a few Legations 
garrisoned by less than four hundred foreigners, we can form 
a fairly accurate estimate of their value and prowess. Who 
would ever dream of using the services of such heroes to 
check foreign aggression ? 

" It may perhaps be suggested that genuine Boxers would 
show very different results in their country's service, and 
that those who have been guilty of murder and arson are not 
really Boxers at all, but outsiders and charlatans, having no 
legitimate connection with the cult. But we submit that if 
the society has been so disorganised as to be divided into 
real and counterfeit members, and if the latter are permitted 
with the tacit consent of the former, to commit every kind 
of atrocity, it seems clear that the genuine Boxer himself is 
a thoroughly disreputable person. 

" Moreover, the Throne has expressly forbidden them to 
take up arms and to continue their devastation with fire and 
sword ; they have been ordered to disband and leave Peking. 
Nevertheless, they ignore these orders and continue in their 
wicked ways. Whether genuine or counterfeit, these Boxers 
vie with one another in flouting the law of the land. Their 
incorrigible wickedness renders them one and all deserving 
of death ; the leniency shown them has but increased their 
arrogance, and the number of these evil-doers has grown by 
reason of the tolerance extended to them. 

"In a previous Memorial we urged that the Grand 
Secretary Jung Lu should be given full powers, with 
instructions to adopt such severe measures as might be 

317 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

necessary for the suppression of this movement, but your 
Majesties decHned to follow our advice. To-day the danger 
has grown infinitely greater, and we feel it therefore our 
bounden duty to lay before your Sacred intelligence our 
crude and humble views even though, in doing so, we incur 
the risk of death for our temerity. We bear in mind the 
words of the Spring and Autumn classic, 'in time of war 
the persons of Envoys are inviolate.' By the international 
law of European countries, foreign Ambassadors are regarded 
as semi-sacred personages : whosoever treats them wrong- 
fully commits a wrong against the State which they 
represent. If these Boxer bandits be permitted to destroy 
the Legations and to slay the foreign Ministers, the Powers 
will undoubtedly consider this a monstrous outrage, and will 
unitedly make any sacrifice in order to avenge it. The 
foreign troops at present in Peking are but few in number, 
but there are great armies to take their place. That China 
should attempt to fight the entire world means, in our 
humble opinion, not the defeat only, but the complete 
annihilation of the Empire. For the past sixty years China 
has made treaties with Foreign Powers, and has permitted 
European missionaries to come amongst us for the pro- 
pagation of their religion. It is true that their converts take 
advantage of their position to act unjustly to their fellow- 
countrymen and to insult them. It is true that they frequently 
rely upon missionary protection to secure their evil ends, but 
it is also true that our local officials often treat these matters 
with apathy and injustice. The non-Christians are therefore 
filled with resentment and indignation against the Christians, 
a result very largely due to lack of ability and energy on the 
part of the Government officials. This is the case at 
present ; we are but reaping the harvest of past faults. 
Your Memorialists do not venture to suggest that the cause 
of this ill-feeling against the Christians lies chiefly with the 
common people, but it cannot be denied that China loses 
dignity in the eyes of the world while our Government 
remains indifferent to these continual feuds between 
Christians and non- Christians. It is inadmissible that the 
local officials should excuse themselves for inaction on the 
plea that they cannot maintain order. For example, if two 

318 



IN MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

neighbours in a village are on bad terms, and a clan fight 
takes place between their respective families and followers, 
and if, as the result, property is destroyed and lives lost in 
the fray, reparation will be claimed by the aggrieved party, 
not from the actual fighters, but from the heads of the other 
clan, with whom rests the responsibility for law and order. 
In matters of State the same principle holds good. 

" The religions of Europe may be divided into Catholic 
and Protestant ; the priests of the former sect are known as 
"spiritual fathers" while the latter are called "pastors." 
These Boxer brigands class all foreign religions alike, making 
no difference between sect and sect ; but the Russians are 
of the Greek church, while the Japanese are Buddhists. 
Neither of these nations has hitherto sent missions to the 
interior of China, a fact which these Boxers completely 
ignore. To them, the mere sight of a foreign costume, or 
the hearing of words in a foreign tongue, immediately 
evokes their war cry of "hairy devils," who must be 
exterminated. It is clear that all right principles of conduct 
render such an attitude unjust, while our weakness as a 
nation renders it inexpedient ; and we would ask your 
Majesties to remember that China has also sent its Envoys 
on foreign missions. If the Powers, enraged by the massacre 
of their Envoys, should retaliate by killing ours, will it 
not be said that China has dealt the fatal blow to her 
own Ministers by the hand of another ? Your Majesty, the 
Empress Dowager, has just sent presents to the foreign 
Legations — fruit, vegetable, flour and rice — in order to 
'display your beneficence to the strangers from afar.'^ 
Nevertheless these Boxer brigands, trusting in their arrogant 
Commander (Tung Fu-hsiang) as a tower of strength, 
continue their attacks upon the Legations. If the foreigners 
come to suspect the Throne of hypocritical displays of 
friendliness while secretly encouraging this bombardment, 
who will hereafter believe any statement that may be put 
forward as to your innocence and disapproval of all this 
carnival of slaughter, however earnestly you may proclaim it 
to a doubting world ? 

1 Quotation from Confucius. 
319 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" If, on the other hand, the Legations successfully main- 
tain their resistance until peace is eventually restored, then 
the foreign Envoys, who have received your Majesty's bounty, 
will naturally feel bound, in common gratitude, to advise 
their Governments that the Boxers alone were responsible 
for the siege, which no foresight could have prevented, and 
that your Majesties are to be acquitted of all blame for the 
growth of this movement. By a wise course of action at 
this juncture, the suspicions of foreign Powers may be lulled, 
and a very great advantage gained at very little trouble 
to ourselves. It will thus be easy to restore harmonious 
relations. But if the Legations are utterly destroyed and 
every foreign Minister put to the sword, by what means can 
the outside world ever learn of your Majesty's present 
thoughtful generosity ? It will be quite vain to hope that, 
without supporting evidence, the Throne will ever be able to 
persuade the foreign Powers of its innocence. They are now 
pouring in troops on the plea of suppressing the rebellion on 
behalf of China. There are many who believe that this is 
merely an excuse for obtaining a permanent foothold on 
Chinese territory ; only the most credulous persons believe 
in the sincerity of the professed motives of foreigners. We, 
your Memorialists, have not wisdom sufficient to fathom 
their real object, but we maintain that these lawless Boxer 
mobs should long since have been wiped out of existence. 
Why should it be necessary to wait until foreign Powers 
demand their extermination, and, above all, why wait until 
those Powers take in hand themselves a matter with which 
we should have dealt ? 

" Thoroughly convinced that China's only hope of pre- 
serving her integrity lies in the preservation of the Legations, 
we now ask that a strong Decree be issued, censuring Tung 
Fu-hsiang and commanding the withdrawal of his troops 
from Peking ; he should under no circumstances be per- 
mitted to approach the Legation quarter any more. It 
should be clearly laid down that any of these Boxers or 
of their followers who may continue the attack on the 
Legations will at once be executed. By withdrawing the 
support of the Government troops from the Boxers, the 
destruction of the latter will be greatly facilitated. At 

320 



IN MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

the same time we earnestly request that Jung Lu be 
authorised to expel every Boxer from Peking within a given 
limit of time, so as to save the State from a danger which is 
' scorching its very eyebrows,' and to prevent any recurrence 
of these troubles. 

"We are aware that the clear light of Heaven is 
temporarily obscured by this very plague of locusts, and that 
our plain speaking may very well be our own undoing. 
But since, in all humility, we realise that China is like a sick 
man whose every breath may be his last, our fear in speaking 
weighs less heavily with us than our sense of duty. There- 
fore, knowing that we face death in so doing, we submit this 
our Memorial, and humbly beg that your Majesties may 
honour us by perusing it." 

Extract from the third and last of the three Memorials by 
Yilan Ch'ang and Hsu Ching-CKeng, 2Srd July, 1900. 

" We, your Memorialists, now humbly desire to point out 
that it is more than a month since our sacred Capital was 
given over to anarchy, a state of affairs which has reacted 
throughout the entire Empire. We now stand confronted 
by the prospect of a war with the whole civilised world, the 
conclusion of which can only be an unparalleled catastrophe. 

" In the reign of Hsien-Feng the Taiping and Mahomedan 
rebels devastated more than ten provinces, and the uprising 
was not quelled until ten years had passed. In the reign of 
Chia-Ch'ing the rebellion of the ' White Lily ' sect laid waste 
three or four provinces. It is recorded in the history of 
these wars that, only after the most heroic efforts, and with 
the greatest difficulty, the Imperial armies succeeded in 
restoring order. But these rebellions, in comparison with 
the present Boxer rising, were mere trifling ailments : the 
State to-day stands threatened with mortal sickness. For on 
the former occasions everyone, from the Throne downwards 
to the lowest of the people, was fully aware that the Taipings 
were rebels ; but to-day some of the highest in the land look 
upon the Boxers as patriots, so that even those who know 
them to be rebels are afraid to confess the truth. Our folly 
is bringing down upon us the ridicule and hatred of every 

321 Y 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

foreign country. When this movement began, these men 
were ignorant peasants, unversed in military matters ; they 
drew after them large numbers of criminals by proclaiming 
as their watchword ' Prop up the Dynasty and slay the 
foreigner.' But what is the rational interpretation of this 
watchword ? If we are to take it as meaning that every 
native of China who treads the soil of our country and lives 
on its fruits should be imbued with feelings of deep gratitude 
for the benevolent and virtuous rule which the present 
Dynasty has maintained for over two centuries, and would 
gladly repay the bounty of the Throne by fighting for its pro- 
tection, we heartily endorse the sentiment. But if it means 
that, at a great crisis in our national history, it is the mob 
alone that has power sufficient to ' prop up ' our tottering 
fortunes and restore tranquillity, should we not remember that 
he who can ' prop up ' can also throw down, and that the 
power which ' props up ' the Dynasty may overthrow it 
to-morrow? What is this then but treasonable language, 
and who so greatly daring as to utter sentiments of this kind ? 

" We, your Memorialists, unworthy as we are, fully realise 
that the foreigners, who make their nests in the body of our 
State, constitute a real danger. But the way to deal with the 
situation is to reform the administration in the first place, and 
in the meanwhile to deal most cautiously with all questions 
of foreign policy. We must bide our time and select a 
weak opponent ; by this means our strength might in due 
course be displayed, and old scores paid oiF. 

*' If foreign nations had gratuitously invaded our country, 
we should be the first to welcome as loyal patriots everyone 
who should take up arms and rush into the fray, however 
feeble his efforts. But to-day, when the Throne's relations 
with foreign States were perfectly friendly, this sudden outcry 
of ' Slay the foreigner ' is nothing but a wanton provocation 
of hostilities on all our frontiers. Foolishness of this kind is 
calculated to destroy our Empire like a child's toy. Besides, 
when they talk of slaying the foreigner, do they mean only 
the foreigners in China, or the inhabitants of every State 
within the five Continents ? The slaughter of Europeans in 
China would by no means prevent others taking their places. 
But if the meaning of this watchword is that they propose to 

322 



m MEMORY OF TWO BEAVE MEN 

make a clean sweep of every non- Chinese inhabitant on the 
face of the earth, any fool can see the utter impossibility of 
their programme. It seems almost incredible that Yii Hsien, 
Yii Lu and other Viceroys should not be capable of realising 
such simple facts as these. Yii Lu in particular has gathered 
around him the Boxer chiefs, and treats them as honoured 
guests. Thousands of the most notorious villains throng into 
his official residence, and are freely admitted on presenting a 
card bearing the title of * Boxer.' These men sit by the side 
of the Viceroy on his judgment-seat, bringing the authority 
of the Throne into contempt, and insulting the intelligence of 
all educated men. Abominable scoundrels like the Boxer 
chiefs, Chang Te-ch'ang and Han Yi-li, men formerly 
infamous throughout their province, and now known in 
Peking itself as a scourge, have actually been recommended 
for official posts in a public Memorial to the Throne ! Never 
has there been a case of a Viceroy so flagrantly hood- 
winking his Sovereign. 

" In regard to Yii Lu's Memorials reporting his military 
success at Tientsin, we have caused careful inquiry to be 
made from many refugees, and they one and all deny the 
truth of these reports. On the contrary they unanimously 
assert that many thousands of our troops have been slain by 
the foreigners, and they even go so far as to say that the 
capture of the Taku Forts is entirely attributable to the fact 
that Yii Lu first permitted the Boxers to attack the foreign 
Settlements. Their indignation against Yii Lu may possibly 
lead them into some slight exaggeration in these statements, 
but, in our opinion, the Viceroy's bombastic reports are of a 
piece with Tung Fu-hsiang's braggart lies, when he tells your 
Majesties that he has destroyed the Legations and annihilated 
their defenders. Tung Fu-hsiang is nothing but a Kansuh 
robber, who, after surrendering to the Imperial forces and 
obtaining some credit in their ranks, attained his present 
position by the exceptional favours of the Throne. He 
should have requited your Majesty's bounty better than by 
associating himself with treasonable rogues and behaving like 
a common footpad. His present actions may very well fore- 
shadow some dastardly design hidden in his wolf-heart. 

" Yii Lu is one of the highest officials in the Empire, and 

323 Y 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

very dilFerent from military men of the Tung Fu-hsiang 
type. It is hard to explain his blear-eyed stupidity. No 
doubt he has been led astray by the deceitful representations 
of your Majesty's Ministers, who have even led the Throne 
to depart from the path of wisdom formerly followed. It 
is these Ministers who are entirely to blame. 

" The Grand Secretary, Hsii T'ung, was born stupid ; he 
knows nothing of the needs and dangers of our times. 
Grand Councillor Kang Yi, an obstinate bigot, herds with 
traitors and fawns on rebels ; Ch'i Hsiu is arrogant and 
obstinate ; while Chao Shu-ch'iao, the President of the 
Board of Punishments, is crafty-hearted and a master of 
sycophancy. 

"After the first entry of the Boxers into Peking, your 
Majesties held a special audience, at which all the Princes 
and Ministers were present, and our advice was asked in 
regard to the adoption of a policy of encouragement or 
repression. Your Memorialists replied that the Boxers were 
anything but patriots and were of no use against foreigners ; 
at the same time we earnestly begged that war should not 
be lightly declared against the whole world. It was on this 
occasion that Hsii T'ung, Kang Yi, and the rest of them 
actually dared to rebuke us in the presence of the Throne. 
Now, if it were a fact that a hundred thousand newly 
sharpened swords might suffice to overcome our enemies, 
we, your Memorialists, by no means devoid of natural feelings 
of patriotism, would welcome the day when these foreigners 
might once for all be smitten hip and thigh. But if such 
a result can by no means be achieved under existing con- 
ditions, then it is not we who deserve the name of traitors, 
but those Ministers who, by their errors, have led the 
State to the brink of disaster. 

" When, in the 5th Moon, your Majesties ordered Kang 
Yi and Chao Shu-ch'iao to proceed to Cho Chou and order 
the Boxers to disperse, the latter forced these Ministers to go 
down upon their knees and burn incense before their altar 
while they chanted their nonsensical incantations. Chao 
Shu-ch'iao knew perfectly well the degrading folly of this 
performance, and openly lamented his part in it ; but he 
had not courage sufficient to contradict Kang Yi, who 

324 



IN MEMORY OF TWO BRAVE MEN 

believed in the Boxers' magic, so that, upon his returning, 
he joined Kang Yi in reporting to the Throne that the 
Boxers had all dispersed. But if they have been dispersed, 
how comes it now that their numbers have been so greatly- 
increased ? And how does the Throne propose to deal 
with Ministers who dare to memorialise in this haphazard 
manner ? 

" Tientsin has already fallen, and the foreign troops draw 
nearer every day. So far, no magical arts of the Boxers 
have availed us anything, and it is our deliberate opinion 
that, within a month, the enemy will be knocking at the 
gates of our Capital. We ask your Majesties to consider the 
dire consequences of the situation, and the possibility of the 
desecration of the shrines of your sacred ancestors. Our 
minds are filled with horror at the thought of what may 
occur. But in the meantime Hsli T'ung, Kang Yi, and the 
rest of them laugh and talk together. The ship is sinking, 
but they remain splendidly unconcerned, just as if they 
believed in the Boxers as a tower of refuge. From such 
men, the State can no more derive council than from idiots 
and drunkards. Even some of the highest in the land, your 
Majesty's own Ministers and members of the Grand Council, 
have bowed the knee before the Boxers. Many a Prince's 
palace and a ducal mansion has been converted into a shrine 
for the Boxer cult. These Boxers are fools, but they have 
been clever enough all the same to befool Hsii T'ung, Kang 
Yi, and their followers. Hsli T'ung, Kang Yi, and the 
rest of them are fools, but they in their turn have 
contrived to befool the Princes and Nobles of the Imperial 
clan. All our calamities may be directly traced to these 
Ministers, to Hsu T'ung, Kang Yi, and the rest of them, 
and unless your Majesties will order their immediate decapi- 
tation, thereby vindicating the majesty of the law, it is 
inevitable that every official in and near the Court must 
accept the Boxer heresies, and other Provincial Governors, 
following the lead of Yli Lu and Yli Hsien, will adopt and 
spread them. 

" And not only on Hsii T'ung, Kang Yi, and their followers 
should the Imperial wrath fall, but also upon those in high 
places whose midsummer madness has led them to protect 

325 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

and encourage the Boxers. Their close relationship to your 
Majesties, or their position as Imperial clansmen, should in 
no wise protect them from the penalty of their guilt. Thus 
only can the foreigners be led to recognise that this Boxer 
madness, this challenge to the world in arms, was the work 
of a few misguided officials, and in no sense an expression 
of the intentions or wishes of the Throne. War will then 
immediately give way to peace, and the altars of our gods 
will remain inviolate. And when these things have come 
to pass, may your Majesties be pleased to order the execu- 
tion of your Memorialists, so that the spirits of Hsii T'ung, 
Kang Yi, and their associates may be appeased. Smilingly 
should we go to our death, and enter the realms of Hades. 
In a spirit of uncontrollable indignation and alarm, we 
present this Memorial with tears, and beg that your Majesties 
may deign to peruse it." 



326 



XIX 

SIDELIGHTS ON TZtJ HSI'S STATECRAFT 

Yuan Ch'ang and Hsii Ch'ing-ch'eng were not alone in 
warning Her Majesty of the danger and folly of her Boxer 
proclivities. At the beginning of the crisis Liu K'un-yi, the 
aged Viceroy of Nanking, sorely distressed at the suicidal 
policy into which she had been led, wrote and despatched, 
by telegram and swift couriers, a Memorial, in which he 
implored her to put a stop to the attacks on the Legations. 
Tzii Hsi's reply to this document clearly reveals the 
indecision which characterised her at this period, her hopes of 
revenge on the hated foreigner struggling ever with her fears 
of impending disaster. The diary of Ching Shan has shown 
us the woman under the fierce stress of her conflicting 
emotions and swiftly-changing impulses, of those moods 
which found their alternating expression in the ebb and flow 
of the struggle around the Legations for more than a month 
after she had received and answered the southern Viceroy's 
Memorial. Of his unswerving loyalty she had no more 
doubt than of that of Jung Lu, and his ripe wisdom had 
stood her in good stead these many years. Nevertheless, his 
advice could not turn her from the path of revenge, from her 
dreams of power unrestrained. All it could effect, aided, no 
doubt, by the tidings of the Allies' capture of the Taku Forts, 
was to cause her to prepare possible by-paths and bolt-holes 
of escape and exoneration. To this end she addressed direct 

327 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

appeals, a tissue of artless fabrications, to the Sovereigns and 
chief rulers of the Great Powers, and proceeded next to 
display her sympathy with the besieged Ministers in the 
Legations by presents of fruits and vegetables, to which she 
subsequently referred with pride as convincing proof of her 
good faith and good will. Her Majesty, in fact, was induced 
to hedge, while never abandoning hope that Prince Tuan and 
his Boxers would make good their boast and drive the bar- 
barians into the sea. 

The Viceroy's Memorial is chiefly interesting as an example 
of that chief and unalterable sentiment which actuates the 
Chinese literati and has been one of the strongest pillars of 
Manchu rule, namely, that the Emperor is infallible, a senti- 
ment based on the fact that complete and unquestioning 
loyalty to the Throne is the essential cornerstone of the 
whole fabric of Confucian morality, filial piety, and ancestral 
worship. While deprecating the Imperial folly, the Viceroy 
is therefore compelled to ascribe it to everyone but Her 
Majesty, and to praise the Imperial wisdom and benevolence. 

His Memorial is as follows : — 

" The present war is due to bandits spreading slaughter 
and arson on the pretext of paying off a grudge against 
Christianity ; thus we are face to face with a serious crisis. 
The Powers are uniting to send troops and squadrons to 
attack China on the plea of protecting their subjects and 
suppressing this rebellion. Our position is critical and the 
provinces are naturally bound to look now to their defences. 
I have already made the necessary preparations, so that if 
those hordes of foreigners do invade us, we shall resist them 
with all our might. I feel that our Sovereigns are displaying 
glorious virtue and that your Majesties are as bountiful as the 
Almighty. Your indulgence to the men from afar indicates 
the boundless magnanimity and good faith which animate all 
your actions. 

" At present, the first essential is to make the Throne's em- 
barrassments, which have led up to the present situation, 
widely known, as well as the quality of consistent kindness 

328 



SIDELIGHTS ON TZU HSI'S STATECRAFT 

with which you are imbued. By so doing, rebels will be 
deprived of any pretext for further rioting. 

" At the beginning of the war, my colleagues and I issued 
a proclamation bidding the people go about their avocations 
as usual, and not to give heed to suspicious rumours. A 
petition has now reached me from Chinese residents abroad 
to urge effective protection for foreigners in China, so that 
there may be no risk of revenge being taken on themselves. 
The language used is very strong, and we have taken 
advantage of the visit of the foreign Consuls, who suggested 
certain measures for the protection of missionaries and mer- 
chants, to give orders to the Shanghai Taotai to come to an 
arrangement with them in regard to the preservation of peace 
in the Yangtsze valley, and at Soochow and Hangchow. 
This arrangement will hold good so long as they do not invade 
the region in question. The Consuls have telegraphed to 
their respective Governments, and I to our Ministers abroad, 
explaining fully this arrangement. The Germans, owing to 
the murder of their Minister, were disposed to oppose it, but 
finally, under compulsion from their colleagues, gave their 
consent also. 

" I respectfully quote your Majesties' decree of the 29th 
of the 5th Moon (June 25th) : ' The foreign Ministers are 
now in a desperately dangerous position ; we are still doing 
our best to protect them.' The decree proceeds to direct us 
to guard well our respective provinces and to take such steps 
as policy may dictate at this emergency. Again, on the 
3rd of the 6th Moon (June 29th), your decree to our 
Ministers abroad states 'We are now sending troops to 
protect the Legations, but we are weak and can only do our 
best. You are to carry on the business of your missions 
abroad as usual.' 

" In other words, the Throne is inflicting stern and exemp- 
lary punishment on those foreigners in Tientsin who provoked 
hostilities, while doing its utmost to protect those innocent 
foreign officials, merchants and missionaries who were not 
responsible for those attacks. Your benevolence and the 
majesty of your wrath are displayed simultaneously, mani- 
fested as brightly as the sun and moon. 

" We have again and again implored you to protect the 

329 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

foreign Ministers : this is the one all-important step which 
must on no account be deferred a day, not only because your 
Majesties' own anxiety recognises its necessity, but because 
the crisis now forces it upon you. 

" The Ministers abroad, Yang Ju and his colleagues, have 
telegraphed to the effect that our first duty is to protect the 
lives of the foreign Ministers and of all foreigners in China. 
I therefore humbly ask you to send competent troops to 
protect the Legations in Peking, and by so doing to protect 
the lives of your own Envoys abroad. I also urge you to 
instruct the provincial authorities to protect all foreigners 
within their respective jurisdictions, and thereby to protect 
our Chinese subjects residing in foreign lands. My anxiety 
is intense." 

To this memorial Tzu Hsi replied, by express courier and 
telegram, as follows : 

"Your memorial has reached us. The Throne was 
reluctant lightly to enter upon hostilities, as we have already 
informed the several foreign Governments and the various 
provincial authorities. We have also issued several decrees 
ordering protection for the Ministers and foreign residents 
all oA^er China. Hence our ideas seem to be identical with 
your own.^ Happily all the Ministers, except Baron von 
Ketteler, are perfectly well and quite comfortable ; only a 
day or two ago we sent them presents of fruits and viands, in 
order to show our commiseration. If the Powers now dare 
to invade your provinces, you must all protect your territories 
and resist with all your might. Even though at the moment 
peace may prevail, you must make most strenuous 
preparations against possible emergencies. In a word, we 
will not willingly be the aggressors. You are to inform our 
various Legations abroad of our calm and kindly feelings 
towards all foreigners, so that they may think out some plan 
of a peaceful settlement, in the general interest. It is 
highly desirable that you give no ready ear to vague rumours 
which are calculated only to lead to further lack of unity. 
This decree is to be conveyed by special courier, at six 
hundred li (two hundred miles) a day." 

1 Tzu Hsi was addicted to gentle sarcasm of this kind in Decrees. 

330 



SIDELIGHTS ON TZU HSI'S STATECRAFT 

A few days before this Decree, i.e., on the 1st of July, 
Her Majesty had drafted with her own pen an explanatory 
decree for the edification of the foreign Powers, recounting 
how the Throne had been led into its present unpleasant 
situation. It is interesting to note that, ten days before, she 
had offered rewards for the heads of foreigners in Peking 
and had sent orders to Yti Hsien to kill every foreigner in 
Shansi, which he did. But Tzti Hsi had studied her classics 
and knew from her own experience how easily dissension 
and jealousies could be created among the barbarians. 

" Owing to a succession of most unfortunate circumstances, 
rapidly and confusedly following each other, we are utterly 
at a loss to account for the situation which has brought 
about hostilities between China and the Powers. Our 
representatives abroad are separated from us by wide seas, 
and besides have no special knowledge of the facts, and they 
are therefore unable to explain to the respective Foreign 
Offices the real state of the Chinese Government's feelings. 
We therefore desire now to place before you the following 
detailed statement of the facts. 

" In the Provinces of Chihli and Shantung there has 
arisen a certain class of disorderly characters who, in their 
respective villages, have been wont to practise the use 
of the quarter-staff and pugilism, combining these exercises 
with certain magic arts and incantations. Owing to the 
failure of the local Magistrates to detect and stop these 
proceedings, the result has been that gradually a state of 
unrest has shown itself throughout that region until, all of 
a sudden, the Boxer movement assumed serious proportions. 
They spread even to Peking, where they were regarded as 
possessed of supernatural powers, so that they gained vast 
numbers of followers and universal sympathy. Following 
in their train the disorderly people of the lower sort raised a 
cry of ' Death to the Christians ! ' following upon which, in 
the middle of the 5th Moon, they proceeded to carry their 
words into deeds, and to slaughter the converts. The 
churches were burned, the whole city was in an uproar, and 
the population passed completely out of our control. 

331 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

"When the first rumours of the coming disaster were 
noised abroad, the Legations asked our consent to bring up 
special guards, which consent, in view of the special neces- 
sities of the case, was readily given. In all some five 
hundred foreign troops came to Peking, which in itself shows 
plainly the friendly disposition of the Throne towards all 
foreign nations. Under ordinary circumstances the foreign 
Legations and their guards do not come in contact with the 
local Chinese authorities, and have no relations with them, 
friendly or otherwise ; but since the arrival of these troops, 
the soldiers have not confined themselves to the duty of 
protecting the Legations, but have gone upon the city walls 
and have even patrolled the outlying parts of the capital, 
with the result that shots have been exchanged and blood 
has been shed. Indeed, so great are the liberties which they 
have taken in the course of their walks abroad, that on one 
occasion they actually endeavoured to force their way into 
the Forbidden City, which, however, they failed to do. For 
these reasons great and widespread indignation has been 
excited against them, and evil-doers have seized the oppor- 
tunity to commit deeds of slaughter and arson, waxing daily 
bolder. At this stage the Powers endeavoured to bring up ^ 
reinforcements from Tientsin, but these were cut to pieces on 
their journey from the sea, and the attempt was perforce 
abandoned. By this time the rebels in the two provinces had 
become so intermingled with the people that it was impossible 
to identify them. The Throne was by no means averse to 
give orders for their suppression, but had we acted with 
undue haste, the result might have been a general con- 
flagration, and our efforts to protect the Legations might 
have ended in a dire calamity. If we had proceeded to 
destroy the rebels in the two provinces, no single missionary 
or native Christian would have been left alive in either, so 
that we had to proceed cautiously in this dilemma. 

" Under these circumstances we were compelled to suggest 
the temporary withdrawal of the Legations to Tientsin, and 
we were proceeding to make the necessary arrangements to 
this end when the German Minister was unfortunately 
murdered one morning on his way to the Tsungli Yamen. 

1 Admiral Seymour's expedition. 
332 



SIDELIGHTS ON TZU HSI'S STATECRAFT 

This incident placed the rebel leaders in a desperate position, 
like that of the man who rides a tiger and who hesitates 
whether it be more dangerous for him to continue his ride 
or to jump oiF. It became then inexpedient that the pro- 
posed withdrawal of the Legations to Tientsin should 
proceed. All we could do we did, which was to enforce 
urgent measures for the due protection of the Legations in 
every emergency. To our dismay, on the 16th ultimo, 
certain foreign naval officers from the squadron outside 
Taku had an interview with the Commandant of the forts, 
demanding their surrender, and adding that, if their demand 
were refused, they would take them by force on the 
following day. The Commandant was naturally unable to 
betray the trust confided to him, and the foreigners 
accordingly bombarded the forts and captured them after a 
vigorous resistance. A state of war has thus been created, 
but it is none of our doing ; besides, how could China be so 
utterly foolish, conscious as she is of her weakness, as to 
declare war on the whole world at once ? How could she 
hope to succeed by using the services of untrained bandits 
for any such a purpose ? This must be obvious to the 
Powers. 

" The above is an accurate statement of our situation, 
explaining the measures unavoidably forced upon China to 
meet the situation. Our representatives abroad must care- 
fully explain the tenor of this decree to the Governments to 
which they are accredited. We are still instructing our 
military Commanders to protect the Legations, and can only 
do our best. In the meantime you, our Ministers, must 
carry on your duties as usual, and not pose as disinterested 
spectators." 

Supplementing this Decree, the Empress, possibly insti- 
gated by some of the master-minds of the Grand Council, 
proceeded to prepare the way for a time-honoured, and 
invariably successful, device of Chinese statecraft, namely, 
the creation of dissension and jealousy between the Powers, 
and to this end she addressed telegrams to the Emperor of 
Russia, Queen Victoria, the Emperor of Japan, and other 
rulers. It is typical of the infantile naivete of Chinese 

333 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

officials in such matters of foreign policy, that copies of these 
extraordinary messages, intended solely to mislead public 
opinion abroad, should have been sent in to the (still 
besieged) Legations with the cards of Prince Ch'ing, and 
the Ministers of the Tsungli Yamen.^ It is certain that these 
artless telegrams, as well as the conciliatory instructions 
subsequently sent to China's representatives abroad, were 
but the outward and visible signs of Tzu Hsi's inward and 
spiritual misgivings caused by the fall of the Taku Forts, the 
capture of the native city of Tientsin, and the massing of 
the armies of the Allies for the advance on her capital. If 
possible, she would therefore make friends in advance among 
the humane, and invariably gullible, sovereigns of Europe, 
making good use of her knowledge of their little weaknesses 
in matters of foreign policy, and be ready to pose in due 
course as the innocent victim of circumstance and fate. But 
" in the profound seclusion of her Palace " she continued to 
hope against hope for the Boxers' promised victories and 
the fall of the Legations which she was so carefully 
"protecting." 

And here let us briefly digress. Students of modern 
Chinese history, desirous of applying its latest lessons to 
future uses, will no doubt observe, that in advising the 
Throne either for peace or war, all Chinese and Manchu 
officials (no matter how good or bad from our point of view, 
how brave or cowardly, how honest or corrupt) agree and 
unite in frankly confessing to their hatred of the foreigner 
and all his works. This sentiment, loudly proclaimed by 
the simple-minded braggart Boxers, is politely re-echoed by 
the literati, and voiced with equal candour by the picked 
men of the Government, men like Yuan Shih-k'ai, Jung Lu, 
and Liu K'un-yi. Those who pose as the friends of 
foreigners merely advocate dissimulation as a matter of 
expediency. The thought should give us pause, not only 
in accepting at their current value the posturings and 
^ See Dr. Smith's "China in Convulsion/' page 36l. 
334 



SIDELIGHTS ON TZU HSI'S STATECRAFT 

pronouncements of the monde diplomatique at Peking, and 
the reassurances given as to our excellent relations with such- 
and-such officials, but it should also lead us to consider what 
are the causes, in us or in them, which produce so constant 
and so deep a hatred ? If we study the Memorials of high 
Chinese officials for the past fifty years, the same unpleasant 
feature presents itself at every turn. We may meet with 
exceptional cases, here and there, like Yiian Ch'ang, who will 
profess respect for the European, but even his respect will 
be qualified and never go to the length of intimate friendship. 
Our perennial gullibility, that faculty which makes the 
Chinese classical " allurements " invariably successful with 
the foreigner, accounts, no doubt, to some extent for the 
Chinese official's contempt for our intelligence, and for our 
failure to learn by experience. It is fairly certain that the 
Boxers of to-morrow will be pooh-poohed (if not applauded) 
in advance by our Chinese Secretariats, as they were in 
1900. But for the Chinese official's unchanging hostility 
towards us, no such explanation offers, and it is perhaps, 
therefore, most satisfactory to our amour propre to assume 
that his attitude is dictated by feelings similar to those 
which inspired Demetrius of the Ephesians, ostensibly 
fearful for the cult of Diana, but in reality disturbed for 
his own livehhood. 

To return. The following are translations of the telegrams 
sent under date 3rd July, by order of the Empress Dowager, 
to the Emperor of Russia, Queen Victoria, and the Emperor 
of Japan. The text of those which were sent at the same 
time to the Presidents of the French and American 
Republics, and which were dated, curiously enough, on the 
19th of June (the Taku Forts fell on the 16th), have been 
published in Monsieur Cordier's most accurate and pains- 
taking work, Les Relations de la Chine, Vol. III. 

Telegram dated 3rd July : — 

" To the Emperor of Russia : — Greeting to your Majesty ! 

335 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

For over two hundred and fifty years our neighbouring 
Empires have enjoyed unbroken relations of friendship, 
more cordial than those existing between any other Powers. 

" Recent ill-feeling created between converts to Christianity 
and the rest of our people have afforded an opportunity to 
evil-disposed persons and rebels to create disturbances, and 
the result has been that the foreign Powers have been led to 
believe that the Throne itself is a party to their proceedings 
and is hostile to Christianity. Your Majesty's representative 
at my Court (M. de Giers) has actually requested our 
Foreign Office to suppress the rebellion and thus to allay the 
suspicions of the Powers. But at the time that he made 
this request, Peking was thoroughly infested with rebels, 
who had stirred up the people and gained for themselves no 
small prestige. Not only our soldiery but the mass of the 
people were burning for revenge against those who practised 
the foreign religion, and even certain Princes of our Imperial 
Clan joined in the movement, declaring that there was no 
room in the Celestial Kingdom for Christianity and the 
ancient religions of the soil. My chief anxiety has been lest 
any precipitate action on the part of the Government might 
lead to some dire catastrophe (i.e., the destruction of the 
Legations), and I feared, too, that the anti-foreign movement 
might break out simultaneously at the Treaty Ports in the 
South, which would have made the position hopeless. I 
was doing my utmost to find a way out of the dilemma when 
the foreign Powers, evidently failing to realise the difficulties 
of our situation, precipitated matters by the bombardment 
and capture of the Taku Forts : now we are confronted with 
all the dire calamities of war, and the confusion in our 
Empire is greater than ever before. Amongst all the Powers, 
none has enjoyed such friendly relations with China as 
Russia. On a former occasion I deputed Li Hung-chang to 
proceed to your Majesty's capital as my special Envoy ; he 
drew up on our behalf and concluded with your country a 
secret Treaty of Alliance, which is duly recorded in the 
Imperial Archives. 

"And now that China has incurred the enmity of the civil- 
ised world by stress of circumstances beyond our power to 
control, I must perforce rely upon your country to act as 

336 



SIDELIGHTS ON TZU HSI'S STATECRAFT 

intermediary and peacemaker on our behalf. I now make 
this earnest and sincere appeal to your Majesty, begging 
that you may be pleased to come forward as arbitrator, and 
thus to relieve the difficulties of our situation. We await 
with anxiety your gracious reply." 

On the same day the Empress Dowager addressed Her 
Majesty Queen Victoria in a telegram which was sent in the 
Emperor's name and forwarded through the Chinese Minister 
in London. Its text runs as follows : — 

" To your Majesty, greeting ! — In all the dealings of Eng- 
land with the Empire of China, since first relations were 
established between us, there has never been any idea of 
territorial aggrandisement on the part of Great Britain, but 
only a keen desire to promote the interests of her trade. 
Reflecting on the fact that our country is now plunged into 
a dreadful condition of warfare, we bear in mind that a large 
proportion of China's trade, seventy or eighty per cent., is 
done with England : moreover, your Customs duties are the 
hghtest in the world, and few restrictions are made at your 
sea-ports in the matter of foreign importations ; for these 
reasons our amicable relations with British merchants at our 
Treaty Ports have continued unbroken for the last half 
century, to our mutual benefit. 

" But a sudden change has now occurred and general sus- 
picion has been created against us. We would therefore ask 
you now to consider that if, by any conceivable combination 
of circumstances, the independence of our Empire should be 
lost, and the Powers unite to carry out their long plotted 
schemes to possess themselves of our territory, the results 
to your country's interests would be disastrous and fatal 
to your trade. At this moment our Empire is striving 
to the utmost to raise an army and funds sufficient for its 
protection ; in the meanwhile we rely upon your good services 
to act as mediator, and now anxiously await your decision." 

Again, in the name of the Emperor and through the 
Chinese Minister at Tokio, the following message was 
addressed to the Emperor of Japan : — 

837 z 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" To your Majesty, greeting ! — The Empires of China and 
Japan hang together, even as the hps and the teeth, and the 
relations existing between them have always been sym- 
pathetic. Last month we were plunged in deep grief when 
we learned of the murder of the Chancellor of your 
Legation in Peking ; we were about to arrest and punish the 
culprits when the Powers, unnecessarily suspicious of our 
motives, seized the Taku Forts, and we found ourselves 
involved in all the horrors of war. In face of the existing 
situation, it appears to us that at the present time the 
Continents of Europe and Asia are opposed to each other, 
marshalling their forces for a conflict of irreconcilable 
ambitions ; everything therefore depends upon our two 
Asiatic Empires standing firm together at this juncture. 
The earth-hungry Powers of the West, whose tigerish eyes 
of greed are fixed in our direction, will certainly not confine 
their attention to China. In the event of our Empire being 
broken up, Japan in her turn will assuredly be hard pressed 
to maintain her independence. The community of our 
interests renders it clearly imperative that at this crisis we 
should disregard all trifling causes of discord, and consider 
only the requirements of the situation, as comrade nations. 
We rely upon your Majesty to come forward as arbitrator, 
and anxiously await your gracious reply to this appeal." 

These remarkable effusions have been inscribed in the 
annals of the Dynasty, by order of Her Majesty, those same 
annals from which all her Boxer Edicts have been solemnly 
expunged for purposes of historic accuracy. One cannot but 
hope that, in process of time, consideration of facts like these 
may cure European diplomacy and officialdom generally of its 
unreasoning reverence for the Chinese written character, a 
species of fetish-worship imbibed from the native pundit and 
aggravated by the sense of importance which knowledge of 
this ancient language so frequently confers. 

These Imperial messages throw into strong relief the 
elementary simplicity of China's foreign policy, a quality 
which foreigners frequently misunderstand, in the general 

338 



SIDELIGHTS ON TZU HSI'S STATECRAFT 

belief that the Oriental mind conceals great depths of 
subtlety and secret information. Looking at these docu- 
ments in the light of the known facts of China's political 
situation at that moment, and stripping them of all artificial 
glamour, it becomes almost inconceivable that any Govern- 
ment should publish to the world and file in its archives 
such puerile productions. But it is frequently the case that 
this very kindergarten element in Chinese politics is a 
stumbling-block to the elaborate and highly specialised 
machinery of European diplomacy, and that, being at a loss 
how to deal with the suspiciously transparent artifices of the 
elderly children of the Waiwupu, the foreigner excuses and 
consoles himself by attributing to them occult faculties and 
resources of a very high order. If one must be continually 
worsted, it is perhaps not unwise to attribute to one's 
adversary the qualities of Macchiavelli, Talleyrand and 
Metternich combined. As far as British interests are con- 
cerned, one of the chief lessons emphasised by the events of 
the past teji years in China is, that the reform of our diplo- 
matic machinery (and particularly of the Consular service) 
is urgently needed, a reform for which more than one British 
Minister has vainly pleaded in Downing Street. 



339 z 2 



XX 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING AND THE 
COURT IN EXILE 

The diarist, Ching Shan, has described in detail the flight 
of the Empress Dowager and Emperor from Peking, before 
dawn, on the morning of the 15th August. From an account 
of the Court's journey, subsequently written by the Grand 
Secretary, Wang Wen-shao, to friends in Chekiang, and pub- 
lished in one of the vernacular papers of Shanghai, we obtain 
valuable corroboration of the diarist's accuracy, together with 
much interesting information. 

Wang Wen-shao overtook their Majesties at Huai-lai on 
the 18th August ; for the past three days they had suffered 
dangers and hardships innumerable. On the evening of the 
19th they had stopped at Kuanshih (seventy li from Peking), 
where they slept in the Mosque. There the Mahommedan 
trading firm of " Tung Kuang yii " (the well-known con- 
tractors for the hire of pack animals for the northern caravan 
trade) had supplied them with the best of the poor food 
available — coarse flour, vegetables, and millet porridge — and 
had provided mule litters for the next stage of the journey. 
As the troops of the escort had been ordered to remain at 
some distance behind, so long as , there was any risk of 
pursuit by the Allies' cavalry, their Majesties' arrival was 
unannounced, and their identity unsuspected. As they 
descended from their carts, travel-stained, weary, and dis- 
tressed, they were surrounded by a large crowd of refugee 

340 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

idlers and villagers, eager for news from the capital. An 
eye-witness of the scene has reported that, looking nervously 
about him, the Emperor said, " We have to thank the Boxers 
for this," whereupon the Old Buddha, undaunted even at the 
height of her misfortunes, bade him be silent. 

Next day they travelled, by mule litter, ninety li (thirty- 
two miles), and spent the night at Ch'a-Tao, just beyond the 
Great Wall. Here no preparations of any kind had been 
made for their reception, and they suffered much hardship, 
sleeping on the brick platform {Fang) without any adequate 
bedding. But the Magistrate of Yen-Ch'ing chou had been 
able to find a blue sedan-chair for Her Majesty, who had thus 
travelled part of the day in greater comfort. Also at 
midday, stopping to eat at Chii-yung kuan, Li Lien-ying, 
the chief eunuch, had obtained a few tea cups from the 
villagers. 

On the 16th they travelled from Ch'a-Tao to Huai-lai, a 
hard stage of fifty li. Some of the officials and Chamber- 
lains of the Court now joined their Majesties, so that the party 
consisted of seventeen carts, in addition to the Old Buddha's 
palanquin and the Emperor's mule litter. As the cortege 
advanced, and the news of their flight was spread abroad, 
rumours began to be circulated that they were pretenders, 
personating the Son of Heaven and the Old Buddha, rumours 
due, no doubt, to the fact that Her Majesty was still wearing 
her hair in the Chinese manner, and that her clothes were the 
common ones in which she had escaped from the Forbidden 
City. In spite of these rumours the Magistrate of Huai-lai, 
a Hupeh man ( Wu Yung), had received no intimation of their 
Majesties' coming, and, when the Imperial party, accom- 
panied by an enormous crowd, entered his Yamen, he had 
no time to put on his official robes, but rushed down to 
receive them as he was. After prostrating himself, he wanted 
to clear out the noisy and inquisitive rabble, but the Old 
Buddha forbade him, saying, " Not so ; let them crowd around 
us as much as they like. It amuses me to see these honest 

341 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

country folk." Here, after three days of coarse fare, the 
Empress Dowager rejoiced once more in a meal of birds'-nest 
soup and sharks' fins, presented by the Magistrate, who also 
furnished her with an outfit of woman's clothing and suits 
for the Emperor and the Heir Apparent, for all of which 
he received Her Majesty's repeated and grateful thanks. 

It was here, at Huai-lai, while the Court was taking a 
day's rest, that Wang Wen-shao came up with them. He 
was cordially, even affectionately, greeted by the Old 
Buddha, who condoled with him on the hardships to which 
he had been exposed, and insisted on his sharing her birds'- 
nest soup, which, she said, he would surely enjoy as much 
as she had done after so many and great privations. She 
rebuked the Emperor for not greeting the aged Councillor 
with warm thanks for his touching devotion to the Throne. 

From Huai-lai, Prince Ch'ing was ordered to return to 
Peking to negotiate terms of peace with the Allies. Knowing 
the difficulties of this task, he went reluctantly ; before 
leaving he had a long audience with Her Majesty, who 
assured him of her complete confidence in his ability to 
make terms, and bade him adopt a policy similar to that of 
Prince Kung in 1860. 

Wang Wen-shao's account of the first part of the Court's 
journey is sufficiently interesting to justify textual repro- 
duction. 

" Their Majesties fled from the palace at the dawn of day 
in common carts. It was only after their arrival at Kuan- 
shih that they were provided v^dth litters. The Emperor and 
Prince P'u Lun rode on one cart until their arrival at Huai-lai, 
where the District Magistrate furnished a palanquin, and 
later on, at Hsiian-hua, four large sedan chairs were found 
for the Imperial party. It was at this point that the 
Emperor's Consort overtook their Majesties. 

" So hurried was the flight that no spare clothes had been 
taken ; the Empress Dowager was very shabbily dressed, so 
as to be almost unrecognisable, the Chinese mode of hair- 

342 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

dressing producing a very remarkable alteration in her 
appearance. On the first night after leaving Peking, they 
slept, like travellers of the lowest class, on the raised brick 
platform of the inn, where not even rice was obtainable for 
the evening meal, so that they were compelled to eat com- 
mon porridge made of millet. In all the disasters recorded 
in history, never has there been such a pitiful spectacle. 

" It was only after reaching Huai-lai that their condition 
improved somewhat, but even then the number of personal 
attendants and eunuchs was very small, and not a single 
concubine was there to wait upon the Old Buddha. For the 
first few days' flight, neither Prince Li, nor Jung Lu, nor 
Ch'i Hsiu (all of them Grand Councillors), were in attend- 
ance so that Her Majesty nominated Prince Tuan to serve on 
the Council. She reviled him at the outset severely, reproach- 
ing him for the misfortunes which had overtaken the 
D5niasty, but as time went on, as he shared with her the 
privations and troubles of the day's journey, she became 
more gracious towards him. This was to some extent due 
to the very great influence which Prince Tuan's wife exercised 
at Court. 

"When I reachfed Huai-lai, the Court consisted of the 
Princes Tuan, Ching, Na, Su, and P'u Lun, with a follow- 
ing of high officials led by Kang Yi, and some twenty 
Secretaries. General Ma's troops and some of the Banner 
Corps of Prince Tuan formed the Imperial escort ; and they 
plundered every town and village on their line of march. 
This, however, is hardly remarkable, because all the shops 
had been closed and there were no provisions to be purchased 
anywhere. 

" To go back for a few days. Yii Lu (Viceroy of ChihH) 
shot himself in a coffin shop at a place south of the Hunting 
Park, and Li Ping-heng took poison after the defeat of his 
troops at T'ungchow. The Court's flight had already been 
discussed after the first advance of the Allies from T'ungchow 
towards Peking; but the difficulty in providing sufficient 
transport was considered insuperable. On the 19th of the 
Moon a steady cannonade began at about midnight, and, from 
my house in Magpie Lane, one could note, by the volume 
of sound, that the attack was steadily advancing closer to 

343 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

the city, and eventually bullets came whistling as thick as 
hail. The bombardment reached its height at about noon 
on the 20th, when news was brought that two gates of the 
Imperial City had been taken by storm. I was unable to 
verify this report. It was my turn for night duty at the 
Palace, but after the last audience, I was unable to enter the 
Forbidden City, as all its gates were barred. It was only at 
7 A.M. on the 21st inst. (August 15th) that I was able to 
gain admittance to the Forbidden City, and then I learned 
that their Majesties had hurriedly fled. On the previous day 
five urgent audiences with the Grand Council had been held ; 
at the last of these only Kang Yi, Chao Shu ch'iao, and 
myself were present. Sadly regarding us, the Old Buddha 
said, ' I see there are only three of you left. No doubt all 
the rest have fled, leaving us, mother and son, to our fate. 
I want you all to come with me on my journey.' Turning 
to me she then said, ' You are too old. I would not wish 
you to share in all this hardship. Follow us as best you 
can later on.' The Emperor expressed his wishes in the 
same sense. 

"By this time it was nearly midnight, and they still 
hesitated about leaving the city ; judge then of my surprise 
to learn that, at the first streak of dawn, their Majesties had 
left the city in indescribable disorder and frantic haste. I 
could not return to my house that day because aU the gates 
of the Imperial City were closed, but at 10 a.m. on the 
following day, I made my way out of the Houmen.^ On 
my way I came across Jung Lu ; he had fainted in his chair, 
and had been forsaken by his cowardly bearers. He said : 
' This is the end. You and I never believed in these Boxers ; 
see now to what a pass they have brought the Old Buddha. 
If you see Her Majesty, tell her that I have gone to rally 
the troops, and that, if I live, I will join her later on.' 

"After leaving Jung Lu, I made my way to a little temple 
which lies midway between the North and the North-West 
Gates of the city, and there I rested a while. It was the 
opinion of the Abbot in charge that the foreigners would 
burn every temple of the city, as all of them had been used 
by the Boxers for their magic rites, and he said that, in 

1 The North Gate of the Imperial City. 
344 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

times of dire peril such as this, it was really inconvenient 
for him to offer any hospitality to visitors. Just at this 
moment news was brought us that the foreign troops were 
on the wall of the city, between the two gates nearest to us, 
and that they were firing down upon the streets ; the city 
was already invested, but the foreigners were not molesting 
civilians, though they were shooting all ' braves ' and men in 
uniform. As the priest declined to receive me, I sought 
refuge at the house of a man named Han, retainer in the 
Imperial Household, who lived close by. All my chair- 
bearers and servants had fled. Shortly after noon I heard 
that one might still leave Peking by the Hsi-chih Men ; so 
leaving everything — carts, chairs, and animals — where they 
were, I started off at dusk on foot with such money and 
clothing as I had on my person. The road ahead of me was 
blocked by a dense crowd of refugees. I took the road by 
the Drum Tower, skirting the lakes to the north of the 
Imperial City. Towards evening a dreadful thunderstorm 
came on, so I took refuge for the night with the Ching 
family. The bombardment had ceased by this time, but the 
whole northern part of the Imperial City appeared to be in 
flames, which broke out in fresh places all through the night. 
At three in the morning we heard that the West Gates were 
opened, and that the City Guards had fled, but that the 
foreigners had not yet reached that part of the city. 

"I had intended to travel by cart, but the disorganised 
troops had by this time seized every available beast of 
burden. My second son, however, was luckily able to per- 
suade Captain Liu to fetch one of my carts out from the 
city, and this was done after several narrow escapes. I had 
left Peking on foot, but at the bridge close to the North- 
West Gate I found this cart awaiting me, and with it my 
second son, who was riding on a mule, and the five servants 
who remained to us following on foot. When we reached 
Hai-Tien (a town which lies close to the Summer Palace) 
every restaurant was closed, but we managed to get a little 
food, and then hurried on after their Majesties to Kuan-shih, 
where we passed the night. Next day, continuing our 
journey, we learned that their Majesties were halting at 
Huai-lai, where we overtook them on the 24th day of the 

345 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Moon. We expect to reach T'ai-yiian fu about the middle 
of next week. 

"The dangers of our journey are indescribable. Every 
shop on the road had been plundered by bands of routed 
troops, who pretend to be part of the Imperial escort. 
These bandits are ahead of us at every stage of the journey, 
and they have stripped the country-side bare, so that when 
the Imperial party reaches any place, and the escort 
endeavour to commandeer supplies, the distress of the 
inhabitants and the confusion which ensues are really 
terrible to witness. The districts through which we have 
passed are literally devastated." 

From Huai-lai the Court moved on to Hslian-hua fu, a 
three days' march, and there remained for four days, resting 
and preparing for the journey into Shansi. The Border 
Warden at Sha-ho chen had provided their Majesties with 
green (official) sedan chairs, and the usual etiquette of the 
Court and Grand Council was being gradually restored. Her 
Majesty's spirits were excellent, and she took a keen interest 
in everything. At Chi-ming yi, for instance, she was with 
difficulty dissuaded from stopping to visit a temple on the 
summit of an adjoining hill, in honour of which shrine the 
Emperor Kanghsi had left a tablet carved with a memorial 
inscription in verse. 

At Hsiian-hua fu there was considerable disorder, but the 
Court enjoyed increased comforts ; thanks to the zeal and 
energy of the local Magistrate (Ch'en Pen). Here the Old 
Buddha received Prince Ch'ing's first despatch from Peking, 
which gave a deplorable account of the situation. 

The Court left Hsiian-hua on the 25th August (its 
numbers being increased by the Emperor's Consort with a 
few of her personal attendants) and spent the night at a 
garrison station called Tso-Wei. The deplorable state of 
the country was reflected in the accommodation they found 
there ; for the guards had fled, and the official quarters had 
all been plundered and burnt, with the exception of two 

346 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

small rooms, evil-smelling and damp. There was no food to 
be had, except bread made of sodden flour. One of the two 
available rooms was occupied by the Old Buddha, the other 
by Kuang Hsu and his Consort, while all the officials of the 
Court, high and low, fared as best they might in the stuffy 
courtyard. For once the venerable mother's composure 
deserted her. " This is abominable," she complained ; " the 
place swarms with insects, and I cannot sleep a wink. It is 
disgraceful that I should have come to such a pass at my time 
of life. My state is worse even than that of the Emperor 
Hslian-Tsung of the T'ang Dynasty, who was forced to fly 
from his capital, and saw his favourite concubine murdered 
before his very eyes." An unsubstantiated report that the 
Allies had plundered her palace treasure vaults was not 
calculated to calm Her Majesty, and for a while the suite 
went in fear of her wrath. 

On August 27th the Court crossed the Shansi border, and 
spent the night at T'ien-chen hsien. The local Magistrate, 
a Manchu, had committed suicide after hearing of the fall of 
Moukden and other Manchurian cities ; and the town was 
in a condition of ruinous disorder. Their Majesties supped 
off a meal hastily provided by the Gaol Warder. But their 
courage was restored by the arrival of Ts'en Ch'un-hslian,^ 
an official of high intelligence and courage, who greatly 
pleased the Old Buddha by bringing her a gift of eggs and 
a girdle and pouch for her pipe and purse. 

On the 30th August the Court lay at Ta-t'ung fu, in the 
Yamen of the local Brigadier- General. They stayed here 
four days, enjoying the greatly improved accommodation 
which the General's efforts had secured for them. 

On September 4th, they reached the market town of T'ai- 
yiieh, having travelled thirty-five miles that day, and here 
again they found damp rooms and poor fare. But Her 
Majesty's spirits had recovered. On the 16th, while 

"^ At that time Governor-designate of Shensi. He had come north with 
troops to defend the capital. 

347 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

crossing the hill-pass of the "Flighting Geese," Her Majesty 
ordered a halt in order to enjoy the view. " It reminds me 
of the Jehol Country," she said. Then, turning to the 
Emperor, "After all, it's delightful to get away like this 
from Peking and to see the world, isn't it?" "Under 
happier circumstances, it would be," replied Kuang Hsu. At 
this point Ts'en Ch'un-hsiian brought Her Majesty a large 
bouquet of yellow flowers, a present which touched her 
deeply : in return she sent him a jar of butter-milk tea. 

On the 7th, the only accommodation which the local 
officials had been able to prepare at Yiian-p'ing was a mud- 
house belonging to one of the common people, in which, by 
an oversight, several empty coffins had been left. Ts'en, 
arriving ahead of the party, was told of this, and galloped 
to make excuses to Her Majesty and take her orders. 
Happily, the " Motherly Countenance " was not moved to 
wrath, and "the divine condescension was manifested." "If 
the coffins can be moved, move them," she said ; " but so 
long as they are not in the main room, I do not greatly 
mind their remaining." They were all removed, however, 
and the Old Buddha was protected from possibly evil 
influences. 

On the 8th September, at Hsin Chou, three Imperial 
(yellow) chairs had been provided by the local officials, so 
that their Majesties' entrance into T'ai-yiian fu, on the 10th, 
was not unimposing. The Court took up its residence in 
the Governor's Yamen (that same bloodstained building 
in which, six weeks before, Yii Hsien had massacred the 
missionaries). Yli Hsien, the Governor, met their Imperial 
Majesties outside the city walls, and knelt by the roadside as 
the Old Buddha's palanquin came up. She bade her bearers 
stop, and called to him to approach. When he had done so, 
she said : " At your farewell audience, in the last Moon of 
the last year, you assured me that the Boxers were really 
invulnerable. Alas ! You were wrong, and now Peking has 
fallen ! But you did splendidly in carrying out my orders 

348 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

and in ridding Shansi of the whole brood of foreign devils. 
Everyone speaks well of you for this, and I know, besides, 
how high is your reputation for good and honest work. 
Nevertheless, and because the foreign devils are loudly calling 
for vengeance upon you, I may have to dismiss you from office, 
as I had to do with Li Ping-heng : but be not disturbed in 
mind, for, if I do this, it is only to throw dust in the eyes of 
the barbarians, for our own ends. We must just bide our 
time, and hope for better days." 

Yli Hsien kowtowed, as in duty bound, nine times, and 
replied : " Your Majesty's slave caught them as in a net, and 
allowed neither chicken nor dog to escape : yet am I ready 
to accept punishment and dismissal from my post. As to 
the Boxers, they have been defeated because they failed to 
abide by the laws of the Order, and because they killed and 
plundered innocent people who were not Christians." 

This conversation was clearly heard by several bystanders, 
one of whom reported it in a letter to Shanghai. When 
Yli Hsien had finished speaking, the Old Buddha sighed, 
and told her bearers to proceed. A few days later she 
issued the first of the Expiatory Decrees by which Yii 
Hsien and other Boxer leaders were dismissed from office, 
but not before she had visited the courtyard where the 
hapless missionaries had met their fate, and cross-examined 
Yii Hsien on every detail of that butchery. And it is 
recorded, that, while she listened eagerly to this tale of 
unspeakable cowardice and cruelty, the Heir Apparent was 
swaggering noisily up and down the courtyard, brandishing 
the huge sword given him by Yti Hsien, with which his 
devil's work had been done. No better example could be 
cited of this remarkable woman's primitive instincts and 
elemental passion of vindictiveness. 

Once more, during the Court's residence at T'ai-yiian, did 
the Old Buddha and Yli Hsien meet. At this audience, 
realising the determination of the foreigners to exact the 
death penalty in this case, and realising also the Governor's 

349 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

popularity with the inhabitants of T'ai-yiian, she told him, 
with unmistakable significance, that the price of coffins was 
rising, a plain but euphemistic hint that he would do well to 
commit suicide before a worse fate overtook him. 

Her Majesty was much gratified at the splendid accom- 
modation provided for her at T'ai-yiian, and particularly 
pleased to see all the gold and silver vessels and utensils 
that had been made in 1775 for Ch'ien Lung's progress to 
the sacred shrines of Wu-T'ai shan ; they had been polished 
up for the occasion and made a brave show, so that the 
" Benevolent Countenance " beamed with delight. " We 
have nothing like this in Peking," she said. 

Jung Lu joined the Court on the day after its arrival at 
T'ai-yiian, and was most affectionately welcomed by the 
Old Buddha, to whom he gave a full account of his journey 
through Chihli and of the widespread devastation wrought 
by the Boxers. He had previously sent in the following 
Memorial which clearly reflects those qualities which had 
endeared him to his Imperial Mistress, and which so honour- 
ably distinguished him from the sycophants and classical 
imbeciles of the Court : — 

" At dawn, on the 21st day of the 7th Moon (15th August) 
your Majesty's servant proceeded to the Gate of Reverend 
Peace (inside the Palace), and learned that your Majesties' 
sacred chariot had left for the West. While there I came 
across Ch'ung Ch'i,^ the President of the Board of Revenue, 
and we were proposing to hurry after your Majesties, when 
we learned that the North-E astern and Northern Gates of 
the city had fallen. So we left Peking by another gate, my 
first object being to try and rally some of the troops. But 
after several conferences with Generals Sung Ch'ing and 
Tung Fu-hsiang, I was forced to the conclusion that our 
repeated defeats had been too severe, and that, in the 
absence of large reinforcements, there was no hope of our 

^ Tutor of the Heir Apparent^ father-in-law of the Emperor T'ung-Chih ; 
his daughter^ the Empress Chia-Shun (A-lu-te)^ had committed suicide in 
1875 (vide supra). 

350 




Marble Bridge in the Grounds of the Lake Palace. 



Photo, Be tines, Pekiiio 




In the Grounds of the Palace in the Western Park. 



Photo, Betiiies, Peking 



i\ 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

being able to take the field again. Our men were in a state 
of complete panic and had lost all stomach for fighting. I 
therefore left and came on to Pao-t'ing fu, and lodged there 
with Chung Ch'i in the " Water Lily " Garden. All night 
long he and I discussed the situation, hoping to see some 
way out of the misfortunes which had overtaken the State. 
Chung Ch'i could not conceal the bitterness of his grief, and 
on the morning of the next day he hanged himself in one 
of the outer courtyards, leaving a letter for me in which 
was enclosed his valedictory Memorial to your Majesties, 
together with a set of verses written just before his death. 
These I now forward for your Majesty's gracious perusal, 
because I feel that his suicide deserves your pity, just as his 
high sense of duty merits your praise. He was indeed a 
man of the purest integrity, and had aU the will, though, 
alas, not the power, to avert the misfortunes which have 
befallen us. He had always looked upon the magic arts of 
the Boxers with profound contempt, unworthy even of the 
effort of a smile from a wise man. At this critical juncture, 
the loss of my trusted colleague is indeed a heavy blow, but 
I am compelled to remember that the position which I hold, 
all unworthily, as your Majesty's Commander-in-Chief, 
necessitates my bearing the burden of my heavy responsi- 
bilities so long as the breath of life is in my body. 

" Such makeshift arrangements as were feasible I made 
for the temporary disposal of Ch'ung Ch'i's remains, and I 
now forward the present Memorial by special courier to your 
Majesty, informing you of the manner of his decease, because 
I hold it to be unfitting that his end should pass unnoticed 
and unhonoured. Your Majesty will, no doubt, determine 
on the posthumous honours to be accorded to him. 

" It is now my intention to proceed, with what speed I may, 
to T'ai-yiian fu, there to pay my reverent duty to your 
Majesty and to await the punishment due for my failure to 
avert these calamities." 

In reply to this Memorial, Tzii Hsi conferred high post- 
humous honours upon Ch'ung Ch'i, praising his loyalty and 
honesty. 

Jung Lu proceeded on his journey, but at a town on the 

351 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Chihli border his wife took ill and died. She had only 
joined him at Pao-t'ing fu. The Old Buddha welcomed him 
with sincere aifection upon his arrival at T'ai-yiian and 
raised his secondary wife, the Lady Liu, to the rank of " Fu 
Jen" or legitimate consort. (This lady had always had 
great influence with the Empress Dowager, which increased 
during the exile of the Court, and became most noticeable 
after the return to Peking.) 

Tzu Hsi asked Jung Lu for his advice as to her future 
policy. Bluntly, as was his wont, he replied " Old Buddha, 
there is only one way. You must behead Prince Tuan and 
all the rest of the Princes and Ministers who misled you and 
then you must return to Peking." 

An incident, vouched for by a high Manchu official 
attached to the Court, illustrates the relations at this time 
existing between the Emperor, the Empress Dowager, 
and Jung Lu. When the latter reached T'ai-yiian fu, 
Kuang-Hsii sent a special messenger to summon him. " I 
am glad you have come at last," said His Majesty. " I desire 
that you will have Prince Tuan executed without delay." 

" How can I do so without the Empress Dowager's 
orders ? " he replied. " The days are past when no other 
Decree but your Majesty's was needed." ^ 

Jung Lu's position, but for the high favour of the 
Empress Dowager, would have been full of danger, for 
he was disliked by reactionaries and reformers alike ; 
surrounded by extremists, his intuitive common sense, his 
doctrine of the " happy mean " had made him many enemies. 
Nor could he lay claim to a reputation for that " purest 
integrity " which he had so greatly admired in his colleague 
Ch'ung Ch'i. At T'ai-yiian fu, he was openly denounced to 
the Old Buddha for having connived in the embezzlements 
of a certain Ch'en Tse-lin, who had been robbing the military 
Treasury on a grand scale. Jung Lu had ordered that his 

1 An allusion to Kuang-Hsii's order for Jung Lu's summaiy execution in 
September 1898. 

352 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

defalcations be made good, but subsequently informed the 
Throne that the money had been captured by the Allies, 
and the accusing Censor did not hesitate to say that the 
price of his conversion (brought to his quarters by the hands 
of a sergeant named Yao) had been forty thousand taels of 
silver, twenty pounds of best birdnests, and four cases of 
silk. The Empress Dowager shelved the Memorial, as was 
her wont, though no doubt she used the information for the 
ultimate benefit of her privy purse. Jung liU also received 
vast sums of money and many valuable presents on his 
birthday, and at the condolence ceremonies for the death of 
his wife, so much so that he incurred the fierce jealousy 
of the chief eunuch Li Lien-ying, who was doing his best 
at this time to re-feather his own nest, despoiled by the 
•troops of the Allies. 

At T'ai-yiian fu, so many officials had joined the Court 
that intrigues became rife ; there was much heartburning 
as to precedence and status. Those who had borne the 
burden and heat of the day, the dangers and the hardships 
of the flight from Peking, claimed special recognition and 
seniority at the hands of their Imperial Mistress. Each 
of these thought they should be privileged above those of 
equal rank who had only rejoined the Court when all danger 
was past, and still more so above those who were now 
hurrying up from the provinces in search of advancement. 

The chief topic of discussion at audience, and at meetings 
of the Grand Council, was the question of the Court's return 
to Peking, or of the removal of the Capital to one of 
the chief cities of the South or West. Chang Chih-tung 
had put in a Memorial, strongly recommending the city of 
Tang- Yang in Hupei, on account of its central position. 
One of the arguments gravely put forward by the '' scholarly 
bungler " for this proposal was, that the characters " Tang- 
Yang " (which 'mean " facing south ") were in themselves of 
good augury, and an omen of better days to come, because 
the Emperor always sits with his face to the south. Chang's 

353 A A 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

enemies at Court saw in this idea a veiled hint that the 
Emperor should be restored to power. 

But Jung Lu was now facile prmceps in the Old Buddha's 
counsels, and at audience his colleagues of the Grand Council 
(Lu Ch'uan-lin and Wang Wen-shao) followed his lead 
implicitly. He never ceased to advise the Empress to return 
forthwith to Peking, and, when at a later date she decided 
on this step, it was rather because of her faith in his sound 
judgment than because of the many Memorials sent in from 
other high officials. During the' Court's stay at T'ai-yiian fu, 
argument on this subject was continual, but towards the end 
of September rumours reached Her Majesty that the Allies 
were sending a swift punitive expedition to avenge the 
murdered missionaries ; this decided her to leave at once for 
Hsi-an fu, where she would feel safe from further pursuit. The 
Court left accordingly on the 30th September ; but as the 
preservation of "face" before the world is a fundamental 
principle, with Empresses as with slave-girls, in China, her 
departure was announced in the following brief Edict : — 

" As Shansi province is suffering from famine, which 
makes it very difficult to provide for our needs, and as the 
absence of telegraphic communication there causes all manner 
of inconvenient delays, we are compelled to contirme our 
progress westwards to Hsi-an." 

The journey into Shensi was made with all due provision 
for the dignity and comfort of their Majesties, but the 
Empress was overcome by grief en route at the death of 
Kang Yi, chief patron of the Boxers, and the most bigoted 
and violent of all the reactionaries near the Throne. He fell 
ill at a place called Hou Ma, and died in three days, although I 
the Vice-President ;.of the Board of Censors, Ho Nai-jdng, 
obtained leave to remain behind and nurse him. The Old 
Buddha was most reluctant to leave the invalid, and showed 
unusual emotion. After his death she took a kindly interest 
in his son (who followed the Court to Hsi-an) and would 

354 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

frequently speak to him of his father's patriotism and 
loyalty. 

At Hsi-an fii the Court occupied the Governor's official 
residence, into which Her Majesty removed after residing for 
a while in the buildings formerly set apart for the temporary 
accommodation of the Viceroy of Kansuh and Shensi on 
visits of inspection. Both Yamens had been prepared for 
Their Majesties' use ; the walls had been painted Imperial red, 
and the outer Court surrounded with a palisade, beyond 
which were the quarters of the Imperial Guards, and the 
makeshift lodgings of the Metropolitan Boards and the 
.officials of the nine Ministries on Palace duty. The arrange- 
ments of the Court, though restricted in the matter of space, 
were on much the same lines as in Peking. The main hall 
of the " Travelling Palace " was left empty, the side halls 
being used as ante-chambers for officials awaiting audience. 
Behind the main hall was a room to which access was given 
by a door with six panels, two of which were left open, 
showing the Throne in the centre of the room, upholstered 
in yellow silk. It was here that Court ceremonies took 
place. On the left of this room was the apartment where 
audiences were held daily, and behind this again were the 
Empress Dowager's bedroom and private sitting-room. The 
Emperor and his Consort occupied a small apartment com- 
municating with the Old Buddha's bedroom, and to the west 
of these again were three small rooms, occupied by the Heir 
Apparent. The chief eunuch occupied the room next to 
that of the Old Buddha on the east side. The general 
arrangements for the comfort and convenience of the Court 
were necessarily of a makeshift and provisional character and 
the Privy Purse was for a time at a low ebb, so that Her 
Majesty was much exercised over the receipt and safe custody 
of the tribute, in money and in kind, which came flowing in 
from the provinces. So long as the administration of her 
household was under the supervision of Governor Ts'en, the 
strictest economy was practised ; for instance, the amount 

355 A A 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

allowed by him for the upkeep of their Majesties' table was 
two hundred taels (about £25) per day, which, as the Old 
Buddha remarked on one occasion, was about one-tenth of 
the ordinary expenditure under the same heading at Peking. 
" We are living cheaply now," she said ; to which the 
Governor replied, " The amount could still be reduced with 
advantage." 

Her Majesty's custom, in selecting the menus for the day, 
was to have a hst of about one hundred dishes brought in 
every evening by the eunuch on duty. After the privations 
of the flight from Peking, the liberal supply of swallows' 
nests and beche-de-mer which came in from the South was 
very much appreciated, and her rough fare of chickens and 
eggs gave way to recherche menus ; but the Emperor, as 
usual, limited himself to a diet of vegetables. She gave 
orders that no more than half a dozen dishes should be 
served at one meal, and she took personal pains with the 
supply of milk, of which she always consumed a considerable 
quantity. Six cows were kept in the immediate vicinity of 
the Imperial apartments, for the feeding of which Her 
Majesty was charged two hundred taels a month. Her health 
was good on the whole, but she suffered from indigestion, 
which she attributed to the change of climate and the 
fatigues of her journey. For occasional attacks of insomnia 
she had recourse to massage, in which several of the eunuchs 
were well-skilled. After the Court had settled down at 
Hsi-an fu. Her Majesty was again persuaded to permit the 
presentation of plays, which she seemed generally to enjoy 
as much as those in Peking. But her mind was for ever 
filled with anxiety as to the progress of the negotiations 
with the foreign Powers at the Capital, and all telegrams 
received were brought to her at once. The news of the 
desecration of her Summer Palace had filled her with wrath 
and distress, especially when, in letters from the eunuch 
Sun (who had remained in charge at Peking), she learned 
that her Throne had been thrown into the lake, and that the 

356 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

soldiers had made " lewd and ribald drawings and writings " 
even on the walls of her bedroom. It was with the greatest 
relief that she heard of the settlement of the terms of peace, 
subsequently recorded in the Protocol of 7th of September, 
and so soon as these terms had been irrevocably arranged, 
she issued a Decree (June, 1901) fixing the date for the 
Court's return in September. This Decree, issued in the 
name of the Emperor, was as follows : 

" Our Sacred Mother's advanced age renders it necessary 
that we should take the greatest care of her health, so that 
she may attain to peaceful longevity ; a long journey in 
the heat being evidently undesirable, we have fixed on the 
19th day of the 7th Moon to commence our return journey, 
and are now preparing to escort Her Majesty, via Honan." 

One of the most notorious Boxer leaders, namely, Duke 
Kung, the younger brother of Prince Chuang, had accom- 
panied the Court, with his family, to Hsi-an. The Old 
Buddha, realising that his presence would undoubtedly 
compromise her, now decided to send him away. His 
family fell from one state of misery to another ; no assist- 
ance was rendered to them by any officials on the journey, 
and eventually, after much wandering, the Duke was 
compelled to earn a bare living by serving as a subordinate 
in a small Yamen, while his wife, who was young and 
comely, was sold into slavery. It was clear that the Old 
Buddha had now realised the error of her ways and the folly 
that had been committed in encouraging the Boxers. After 
the executions and suicides of the proscribed leaders of 
the movement she was heard on one occasion to remark : 
" These Princes and Ministers were wont to bluster and 
boast, relying upon their near kinship to ourselves, and we 
foolishly believed them when they assured us that the 
foreign devils would never get the better of China. In their 
folly they came within an ace of overthrowing our Dynasty. 
The only one whose fate I regret is Chao Shu-ch'iao. For 
him I am truly sorry." 

357 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

The fate of Prince Chuang's brother showed clearly that 
both officials and people had realised the genuine change in 
the Empress Dowager's feelings towards the Boxers, for 
there was none so poor to do him honour. 

Both on the journey to Hsi-an fu and on the return to 
the Capital, Her Majesty displayed the greatest interest in 
the lives of the peasantry and the condition of the people 
generally. She subscribed liberally to the famine fund in 
Shansi, professing the greatest sympathy for the stricken 
people. She told the Emperor that she had never appreciated 
their sufferings in the seclusion of her Palace. 

During the Court's stay at Hsi-an fu the Emperor came 
to take more interest in State affairs than he had done at 
any time since the coiq:) d'etat, but although the Old Buddha 
discussed matters with him freely, and took his opinion, he 
had no real voice in the decision of any important matter. 
His temper continued to be uncertain and occasionally violent, 
so that many high officials of the Court preferred always to 
take their business to the Empress Dowager. One important 
appointment was made at this time by the Old Buddha at 
the Emperor's personal request, viz., that of Sun Chia-nai 
(ex-Imperial tutor) to the Grand Secretariat. This official 
had resigned office in January 1900 upon the selection 
of the Heir Apparent, which he regarded as equivalent to 
the deposition of the Emperor.^ Subsequently, throughout 
the Boxer troubles, he had remained in his house at Peking, 
which was plundered, and he himself would undoubtedly 
have been killed, but for the protection given him by Jung 
Lu. At this time also, Lu Ch'uan-lin joined the Grand 
Council. When the siege of the Legations began, he had left 
his post as Governor of Kiangsu, and marched north with 
some three thousand men to defend Peking against the 
foreigners. Before he reached the Capital, however, it had 
fallen, so that, after disbanding his troops, he went for a few 
weeks to his native place in Chihli, and thence proceeded to 

^ See biographical note^ infra (Appendix). 
358 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

join the Court at T'ai-yiian fu, where the Old Buddha received 
him most cordially. His case is particularly interesting in 
that he was until his death a member of the Grand Council,^ 
and that, like many other high officials at Peking, his ideas 
of the art of government and the relative position of 
China in the world, remained exactly as they were before the 
Boxer movement. His action in proceeding to Peking with 
his troops from his post in the south is also interesting, as 
showing the semi-independent position of provincial officials, 
and the free hand which any man of strong views may claim 
and enjoy. The Viceroys of Nanking and Wuchang might 
dare to oppose the wishes of the Empress Dowager, and to 
exercise their own judgment as regards declaring war upon 
foreigners, but it was equally open to any of their subordin- 
ates to diffisr from them, and to take such steps as they might 
personally consider proper, even to the movement of troops. 
An official, one of the many provincial deputies charged 
with the carrying of tribute to the Court at Hsi-an, returning 
thence to his post at Soochow, sent to a friend at Peking a 
detailed description of the life of the Court in exile, from 
which the following extracts are taken. The document, 
being at that time confidential and not intended for 
publication, throws some light on the Court and its doings 
which is lacking in official documents : — 

" The Empress Dowager is still in sole charge of affairs, 
and controls everything in and around the Court ; those 
who exercise the most influence with her are Jung Lu 
and Lu Ch'uan-lin. Governor Ts'en, has fallen into 
disfavour of late. His Majesty's advisers are most anxious 
that she should return to Peking. She looks very young 
and well ; one would not put her age at more than forty, 
whereas she is really sixty-four. The Emperor appears to 
be generally depressed, but he has been putting on flesh 
lately. The Heir Apparent is fifteen years of age ; fat, 
coarse-featured, and of rude manners. He favours military 
habits of deportment and dress, and to see him when he goes 
1 Deceased, 26th August 1910. 
359 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

to the play, wearing a felt cap with gold braid, a leather 
jerkin, and a red military overcoat, one would take him for 
a prize-fighter. He knows all the young actors and rowdies, 
and associates generally with the very lowest classes. He is 
a good rider, however, and a very fair musician. If, at the 
play-houses, the music goes wrong, he will frequently get up 
in his place and rebuke the performer, and at times he even 
jumps on to the stage, possesses himself of the instrument, 
and plays the piece himself. All this brings the boy into 
disrepute with respectable people, and some of his pranks 
have come to the ears of the Old Buddha, who they say 
has had him severely whipped. His last ofiPence was to 
commence an intrigue with one of the ladies-in-waiting 
on Her Majesty, for which he got into serious trouble. He 
is much in the company of Li Lien-ying (the chief eunuch), 
who leads him into the wildest dissipation.^ My friend Kao, 
speaking of him the other day, wittily said, that ' from being 
an expectant Emperor, he would soon become a deposed 
Heir Apparent ' ; which is quite true, for he never reads, all 
his tastes are vicious, and his manners rude and overbearing. 
To give you an instance of his doings: on the 18th of 
the 10th Moon, accompanied by his brother and by his 
uncle, the Boxer Duke Lan, and followed by a crowd of 
eunuchs, he got mixed up in a fight with some Kansu braves 
at a theatre in the temple of the City God. The eunuchs 
got the worst of it, and some minor officials who were in the 
audience were mauled by the crowd. The trouble arose, in 
the first instance, because of the eunuchs attempting to claim 
the best seats in the house, and the sequel shows to what 
lengths of villainy these fellows will descend, and how great 
is their influence with the highest officials. The eunuchs 
were afraid to seek revenge on the Kansu troops direct, but 
they attained their end by denouncing the manager of the 
theatre to Governor Ts'en, and by inducing him to close 
every theatre in Hsi-an. Besides which, the theatre manager 
was put in a wooden collar, and thus ignominiously paraded 
through the streets of the city. The Governor was induced 
to take this action on the ground that Her Majesty, sore 
distressed at the famine in Shansi and the calamities which 

1 As he had done for Tzii Hsi's son, the Emperor T'ung-Chih. 

360 



THE FLIGHT FROM PEKING 

have overtaken China, was offended at these exhibitions of 
unseemly gaiety ; and the proclamation which closed the 
play-houses, ordered also that restaurants and other places of 
public entertainment should suspend business. Everybody 
in the city knew that this was the work of the eunuchs. 
Eventually Chi Lu, Chamberlain of the Household, was 
able to induce the chief eunuch to ask the Old Buddha 
to give orders that the theatres be reopened. This was 
accordingly done, but of course the real reason w^as not 
given, and the Proclamation stated that, since the recent fall 
of snow justified hopes of a prosperous year and good 
harvests, as a mark of the people's gratitude to Providence, 
the theatres would be reopened as usual, 'but no more 
disturbances must occur.' 

" The chief eunuch does not seem to be abusing his 
authority as much as usual at Hsi-an, most of his time and 
attention being given to the collection and safe keeping 
of tribute. If the quality and quantity received is not up 
to his expectations, he will decline to accept it, and thus 
infinite trouble is caused to the officials of the province 
concerned. 

" A few days before the Old Buddha's sixty-fifth birthday 
in the 10th Moon, Governor Ts'en proposed that the city 
should be decorated, and the usual costly gifts should be 
presented to Her Majesty, but to this proposal Prince 
P'u T'ung took the strongest exception ; ' China is in 
desperate straits,' he said, ' and even the ancestral shrines and 
birthplaces of the Dynasty are in the hands of foreign troops. 
How then could the Old Buddha possibly desire to celebrate 
her birthday? The thing is impossible.' The matter was 
therefore allowed to drop. But the Governor is certainly 
most anxious to make a name for himself, and, in spite 
of his blustering professions of an independent attitude, 
he does not disdain to curry favour with the chief eunuch 
and others who can serve him. They say that he has 
recently sworn ' blood brotherhood ' with Hsin, the eunuch 
whose duty it is to announce officials at audiences. No 
doubt it is due to this distinguished connection that he has 
recently been raised to the rank of a Board President, 
and therefore entitled to ride in a sedan chair within the 

361 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

precincts of the Court, which, no doubt, he considers more 
dignified than riding in a cart.^ 

" Tung Fu-hsiang has returned to his home in Kansu, but 
his troops remain still at Hsi-an under the command of 
General Teng, who so greatly distinguished himself in the 
Mahomedan rebellion. 

" It would seem that the Old Buddha still cherishes hopes 
of defeating the foreigners, for she is particularly delighted 
by a Memorial which has been sent in lately by Hsia Chen- 
wu, in which he recommends a certain aboriginal tribesman 
(* Man-tzu ') as a man of remarkable strategic ability. He 
offers to lose his own head and those of all his family, should 
this Heaven-sent warrior fail to defeat all the troops of the 
Allies in one final engagement, and he begs that the 
Emperor may permit this man to display his powers and 
thus save the Empire." 

^ Amongst Chinese officials no characteristic is more common than their 
jealousy of each other and their promiscuous habit of backbiting and 
slandering*. 



362 



XXI 

HOW THE BOXER LEADERS DIED 

China's officials may be said to be a class of individualists, 
incapable, as a rule, of collective heroism or any sustained 
effort of organised patriotism ; but it is one of the remarkable 
features and results of her system of philosophy that the 
mandarins, even those who have been known publicly to 
display physical cowardice at critical moments, will usually 
accept sentence of death at the hands of their Sovereign with 
perfect equanimity, and meet it with calm philosophic 
resignation. The manner in which the Boxer leaders died, 
who were proscribed in the course of the negotiations for the 
peace Protocol at Peking, affords an interesting illustration 
of this fact ; incidentally it throws light also on a trait in the 
Chinese character, which to some extent explains the solidity 
and permanence of its system of government, based as it is 
on the principle of absolute obedience and loyalty to the 
head of the State as one of the cardinal Confucian virtues. 

Despite the repeated and unswerving demands of the 
foreign Powers that the death penalty should be inflicted 
upon the chief leaders and supporters of the Boxers, the 
Empress Dowager was naturally loth to yield, inasmuch as 
she herself had been in full sympathy with the movement. 
It was only after many and prolonged meetings with her 
chief advisers, and when she realised that in this course lay 
her only hope of obtaining satisfactory terms of peace, that 

363 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

she finally and most reluctantly consented, in February 
1901, to the issue of a Decree (drafted by Jung Lu) in which 
she abandoned to their fate those who, with her full know- 
ledge and approval, had led the rising which was to drive all 
foreigners into the sea. With the knowledge in our 
possession as to Her Majesty's complicity, and in some cases 
her initiative, in the anti-foreign movement, it is impossible 
to read this Decree without realising something of the 
ruthlessness of the woman and her cynical disregard of 
everything except her own safety and authority. Even so, 
however, Tzu Hsi could not bring herself at first to comply 
with all the demands of the Powers, evidently hoping by 
compromise and further negotiations to save the lives of her 
favourites. Prince Tuan, Duke Lan and Chao Shu-ch'iao. 
The Decree, issued in the Emperor's name, was as follows : — 

" In the summer of last year, the Boxer Rebellion arose, 
which brought in its train hostilities with friendly Powers. 
Prince Ch'ing and Li Hung-chang have now definitely 
settled the preliminary conditions of the Peace Protocol. 
Reflecting on the causes of this disaster, we cannot escape 
the conclusion that it was due to the ignorance and arro- 
gance of certain of our Prmces and Ministers of State who, 
foolishly believing in the alleged supernatural power of the 
Boxers, were led to disobey the Throne and to disregard our 
express commands that these rebels should be exterminated. 
Not only did they not do this, but they encouraged and 
assisted them to such an extent that the movement gained 
hosts of followers. The latter committed acts of unprovoked 
hostility, so that matters reached a pass where a general 
cataclysm became inevitable. It was by reason of the folly 
of these men that General Tung, that obstinate braggart, 
dared to bombard the Legations, thus bringing our Dynasty 
to the brink of the greatest peril, throwing the State into 
a general convulsion of disorder, and plunging our people 
into uttermost misery. The dangers which have been 
incurred by Her Majesty the Empress Dowager, and myself 
are simply indescribable, and our hearts are sore, aching with 

364 



HOW THE BOXER LEADERS DIED 

unappeased wrath at the remembrance of our sufferings. Let 
those who brought about these calamities ask themselves 
what punishment can suffice to atone for them ? 

" Our former Decrees on this subject have been far too 
lenient, and we must therefore now award further punish- 
ments to the guilty. Prince Chuang, already cashiered, 
led the Boxers in their attack upon the French Cathedral 
and the Legations, besides which, it was he who issued a 
Proclamation in violation of all our Treaties. (This refers 
to the rewards offered for the heads of foreigners.) He too 
it was who, acting as the leader of the savage Boxers, put to 
death many innocent persons. As a mark of clemency un- 
merited by these crimes, we grant him permission to commit 
suicide, and hereby order that Ko Pao-hua shall supervise 
the execution of these our commands. 

"Prince Tuan, already cashiered, was the leader and 
spokesman of the Imperial Clan, to whom was due the 
declaration of war against foreigners ; he trusted implicitly 
in Boxer magic, and thus inexcusably brought about hos- 
tilities. Duke Lan, who assisted Prince Chuang in drawing 
up the proclamation which set a price on the head of every 
foreigner, deserves also that he be stripped of all his dignities 
and titles. But remembering that both these Princes are our 
near kinsmen, we mitigate their sentence to exile to Turkestan, 
where they will be kept in perpetual confinement. The 
Governor of Shensi, Yli Hsien, already cashiered, believed in 
the Boxers at the time when he held the Governorship of 
Shantung ; when he subsequently came to Peking, he sang 
their praises at our Court, with the result that many Princes 
and Ministers were led astray by his words. As Governor 
of Shansi he had put to death many missionaries and native 
converts, proving himself to be an utterly misguided and 
bloodthirsty man. He was undoubtedly one of the prime 
causes of all our troubles. We have already decreed his 
banishment to Turkestan, and by this time he should already 
have reached Kansu. Orders are now to be transmitted for 
his immediate decapitation, which will be superintended by 
the Provincial Treasurer. 

" As to the late Grand Secretary, Kang Yi, he also 
believed in the Boxers, and went so far as to set a price on 

365 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

the lives of foreigners so that, had he Uved, he too would 
have been sentenced to death, but as matters stand, we order 
that he be posthumously deprived of his rank and summarily 
cashiered. 

" We have already cashiered Tung Fu-hsiang. While 
permitted to retain his rank as a military official, he camiot 
escape a certain share of responsibility for the siege of 
the Legations, although his orders emanated from Princes 
and Ministers of State ; and because of his ignorance of 
foreign affairs, slack discipline, and general stupidity, he 
certainly deserves severe punishment. But we cannot over- 
look the services he has rendered in the Kansu rebellion, and 
the good name which he bears amongst our Chinese and 
Mahomedan subjects in that province, so that, as a mark of 
our favour and leniency, we merely remove him from his 
post.i 

" Ying Nien, Vice-President of the Censorate, was opposed 
to the issue of the proclamation which offisred rewards for 
foreigners' heads, and for this he deserves lenient treatment, 
but he failed to insist strongly in his objections, and we are 
therefore compelled to punish him. He is hereby sentenced 
to be cashiered and imprisoned pending decapitation.^ 

" As regards the Grand Councillor Chao Shu-ch'iao, he 
had never, to our knowledge, shown any hostility to foreigners, 
and when we despatched him on a special mission to confer 
with the Boxers, the report which he submitted on his 
return showed no signs of sympathy with their proceedings.^ 
Nevertheless, he was undoubtedly careless, and we therefore, 
acting in leniency, decree that he be cashiered and imprisoned 
pending decapitation.^ 

" The Grand Secretary Hsii T'ung and Li Ping-heng, our 

^ It was because of Tung Fu-hsiang's great popularity in Kansu that Her 
Majesty, fearing another rebellion, hesitated to order his execution. 

2 This sentence is equivalent to imprisonment for life. 

2 See Ching Shan's Diary, page 258 ; also cf. page 324. 

^ The Empress Dowager was from the outset most anxious to screen and 
protect this official, for whom she had a great personal regard. On reviewing 
his case in the light of later information and current public opinion, it would 
appear that most of his actions were instigated, if not ordered, by Kang Yi, 
and that the decision of the foreign Ministers to insist upon his death was 
taken without any very definite information as to his share of guilt. 

366 



HOW THE BOXER LEADERS DIED 

Assistant Commander-in-Chief, have both committed 
suicide, but as their behaviour has been very severely 
criticised, we order that they be deprived of their ranks ; and 
all posthumous honours granted to them are hereby 
cancelled. 

" The Ministers of the friendly Powers can no longer fail 
to recognise that the Boxer Rebellion was indeed the work 
of these guilty officials, and that it was in no way due to 
any action or wishes on the part of the Throne. In the 
punishment of these offenders we have displayed no 
leniency, from which all our subjects may learn how grave 
has been the recent crisis." 

As the terms of this Decree still failed to satisfy 
the foreign Ministers, especially as regards the sentences 
passed on Prince Tuan and Duke Lan, another Decree, a 
week later, ordered that both these Manchu leaders should 
be imprisoned pending decapitation, a sentence which was 
eventually reduced to one of perpetual banishment to 
Turkestan. Posthumous decapitation, a grievous disgrace 
in the eyes of Chinese officials, was decreed as a further 
punishment upon Kang Yi, while Chao Shu-ch'iao and Ying 
Nien were ordered to commit suicide. Finally, the Grand 
Councillor Ch'i Hsiu, and a son of the Grand Secretary 
Hsii T'ung (who had closely followed in his father's 
footsteps as the most violent opponent of everything 
foreign), were sentenced to decapitation, and were duly 
executed at Peking. 

In compliance with the last demands of the Foreign 
Ministers, a final Decree, the wording of which points 
clearly to reluctant action under compulsion, restored the 
ranks and honours of the five officials who had been 
executed for advising Her Majesty against the Boxers. To 
revise this sentence without leaving them under some 
imputation of blame would have involved most undesirable 
loss of " face," and the Decree therefore observes : — 

" When we urged these officials, at a general audience of 

367 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

all our Ministers, to state their views definitely, so that we 
might judge fairly of the issues, they expressed themselves 
hesitatingly, and our evil-disposed Princes and advisers were 
thus able to take advantage of their apparent indecision. 
This was the cause of their undoing. They were impeached 
on all sides, and were eventually decapitated. We recall to 
mind the fact that these five officials always showed con- 
siderable ability in handling diplomatic questions, and, as a 
mark of our favour, we therefore restore to them their 
original rank." 

The Death of Chao Shu-cKiao. — This Grand Councillor, 
one of the Empress's favourite Ministers, whom to the last 
she endeavoured to protect from execution, was originally 
sentenced only to imprisonment for life. He was confined 
in the prison of the Provincial Judge at Hsi-an, where his 
family were allowed to visit him. On the day before the issue 
of the Decree which sentenced him to imprisonment, the 
Old Buddha had said, at a meeting of the Grand Council, 
" I do not really believe that Chao sympathised in the 
very least with the Boxers ; the error that he made lay in 
under-estimating the seriousness of the movement." This 
was reported to Chao, who was naturally much elated, and 
believed that his life would surely be spared. A few days 
later, however, it was freely rumoured that the foreign 
Powers were insisting upon his decapitation, and the news 
created the greatest excitement throughout the city, which 
was his native place. Some three hundred of the chief men of 
the city having drawn up a monster petition, proceeded with 
it to the office of the Grand Council, and begged, in the 
name of the whole community, that his life be spared. The 
Grand Councillors were afraid to take the petition to Her 
Majesty, but, in reply to the deputation, the President of the 
Board of Punishments (who was related to Chao) declared 
that his execution would be an act of monstrous injustice. 

On the first day of the New Year, these rumours took 
more definite shape, and on that day Her Majesty's audience 

368 



HOW THE BOXER LEADERS DIED 

with the Grand Council lasted from six to eleven in the 
morning; but even then no decision had been come to in 
regard to complying with the demand for Chao's execution. 
Throughout the neighbourhood of the Drum Tower the 
streets were packed with a huge crowd, who threatened that 
they would certainly rescue Chao if he were taken out for 
execution. So great was the clamour that the Grand 
Council feared a riot, and they determined, therefore, to beg 
Her Majesty to permit Chao to commit suicide. This was 
done, and Tzu Hsi reluctantly agreeing, issued the Decree 
at one o'clock on the following morning, which fixed the 
hour for reporting his death to Her Majesty at five o'clock 
in the afternoon of the same day. Governor Ts'en was 
ordered to proceed to the prison, and read the Decree to 
Chao, which he did in due form. After hearing it in silence 
to the end, Chao asked : '* Will there be no further Decree ? " 
" No," said Ts'en. " Surely, there must be," said Chao. At 
this his wife, intervening, said, " There is no hope ; let us 
die together ! " She then gave him poison, of which he took 
a little, but up till 3 p.m. it appeared to have had no effect 
whatsoever, for he seemed most vigorous, and discussed at 
great length with his family the arrangements to be made 
for his funeral. He was much exercised in mind at the 
effect which his death would have upon the health of his 
aged mother. All day long his room was crowded by friends 
and colleagues ; the Governor had endeavoured at first to 
prevent their coming, but had eventually yielded, so that 
the number of those present was very large. Chao, address- 
ing them, said : " I have been brought to this pass entirely 
by the fault of Kang Yi." The Governor, observing that 
his voice sounded clear and firm, and that, at this hour, there 
were no signs of impending death about him, ordered one of 
the attendants to give him some opium to swallow. At 
5 o'clock, the opium having apparently taken no effect, the 
attendants were ordered to give him a liberal dose of arsenic, 
after which he rolled over on to the ground, and lay there, 

369 B B 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

groaning and beating his breast with his hands. Later, 
complaining of extreme pain, he asked that friction might 
be apphed to his chest, but so strong was his constitution, 
and so determined his will, that even at 11 o'clock it was 
evident that there was still no little life left in him. The 
Governor was much disturbed and distressed, being well 
aware that the Old Buddha would require some adequate 
explanation of this long delay in the execution of her orders. 
" I was to report his death at 5 o'clock," said he, " the man 
will not die : what is to be done ? " The attendants suggested 
that he should screw up some pieces of thick paper, dip 
them in strong spirit, and with them close the breathing 
passages ; by this means he would be speedily suifocated. 
Ts'en approved of the suggestion, and after five wads of 
paper had been inserted, death ensued. His wife, weeping 
bitterly, thereupon committed suicide. To the end, Chao 
could not beheve that the Empress Dowager would allow 
his death, and for this reason it is probable that he purposely 
took an insufficient dose of opium in order to gain time for 
a reprieve. 

The Death of Prince Chuang. — Prince Chuang, with his 
concubine and son, went to Tu Chou, in South Shansi, there 
to await the decision of the Empress Dowager as to his fate. 
He lodged in an official house of entertainment. When Ko 
Pao-hua, the Imperial Commissioner, brought thither the 
Decree commanding him to commit suicide, it was early in 
the morning ; nevertheless, upon his arrival, crackers were 
fired, in accordance with etiquette, to greet him. The noise 
greatly irritated Prince Chuang, who turned savagely upon 
the attendants, and asked what they meant by making such 
a noise at such an hour. " An Imperial Commissioner has 
arrived," they said. " Has he come about me ? " asked the 
Prince. " No," they replied, " he is merely passing through 
on business." When the Imperial Commissioner was 
ushered in, the Prince began to ply him with questions 
about the Court, to which Ko briefly replied. After talking 

370 



HOW THE BOXER LEADERS DIED 

for a little while Ko went oiF to inspect the premises, at the 
back of which he found an old temple, in which he selected 
an unoccupied room to be the scene of Prince Chuang's 
suicide. From a beam in the roof he hung a silken cord, 
and, after fastening it securely, he directed the Prefect and 
the District Magistrate to send some soldiers to keep order. 
Having made these preparations he returned to the presence 
of the Prince, and informing him that he had an Imperial 
Decree to read to him, ordered him to go down on his 
knees to hear it. The Prince, drawing himself up to his full 
height, said, " Is it my head that you want ? " The Imperial 
Commissioner made no direct reply, but proceeded to read 
the Decree to the Prince, who reverently knelt. ^ When 
the Commissioner had finished, "So it is suicide," said the 
Prince, " I always expected they would not be content with 
anything less than my life. I greatly fear that even our 
Old Buddha will not be allowed to last much longer." 
He next asked the Imperial Commissioner to be per- 
mitted to bid farewell to his family, which was allowed 
him. At this moment, his concubine and his son, having 
learned of the Imperial Commissioner's business, entered 
the room. The Prince, addressing his son, said : — - 
"Remember that it is your duty to do everything in 
your power for your country ; at all costs, these foreigners 
must not be allowed to possess themselves of the glorious 
Empire won for us by our ancestors." ^ His son, bitterly 
weeping, could not reply, while his concubine passed from 
frantic grief to a swoon. The Prince, unmoved, asked : — 
" Where is the death chamber ? " The Imperial Com- 
missioner replied : — " Will your Highness please to come to 
the empty room at the back of the house." When the 
Prince, following him, saw the silken cord hanging from the 
beam, he turned and said :— " Your Excellency has indeed 
made most admirable and complete arrangements." With 

1 In accordance with prescribed custom. 

2 He was directly descended from Nurhachu^ the conqueror of the Mings. 

371 B B 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

these words he passed the cord around his neck, and in 
a very few minutes hfe was extinct. 

The Death of Ying Nien. — Ying Nien was an arrant 
coward. On the day of the issue of the first Decree, 
ordering his imprisonment at Hsi-an, his family deserted him, 
and he remained all through the night, weeping, in great 
distress of mind. To his attendants he complained bitterly 
that Prince Ch'ing had not intervened to protect him. The 
next day was the New Year Festival, and as everybody was 
busy with preparations for the occasion, little heed was paid 
to him, and he spent the day weeping. Towards midnight 
his crying suddenly ceased, and on the following morning he 
was found by his servant, prone upon the ground, his face 
covered with mud, quite dead. He had choked himself 
by swallowing mud, but as the Decree ordering him to 
commit suicide had not actually been issued, the fact of his 
death was suppressed for forty-eight hours, after which 
Governor Ts'en was informed, and he reported it to the Old 
Buddha. 

The Decapitation of Yil Hsien. — When the Decree, 
commanding his decapitation, reached Yii Hsien, he had 
already started under escort for his place of banishment, but 
he was a sick man and could only totter weakly along. 
On learning the news, he appeared as one dazed, a very 
different man indeed from that fierce Governor of Shansi, 
who had displayed such bloodthirsty activity. On the day 
before his death he was very seriously ill, and when the 
time came, he was so weak that he had to be supported 
to the execution ground. On the previous day the leading 
citizens of Lan-chou fu expressed their desire to offer him 
a valedictory banquet, but he declined the honour with 
thanks, expressing his wish to spend his last day in quietude. 
He wrote a pair of scrolls as an expression of his gratitude 
for the courtesy thus shown to him, and the elders of 
the city decided and informed him that the execution 
ground would be decorated with red cloth, as for a festival, 

372 



HOW THE BOXER LEADERS DIED 

in his honour. Towards evening, notices were placarded in 
the principal streets, calling on the people to insist upon his 
being reprieved, but Yii Hsien knew that this w^as quite 
useless. He composed a statement of his actions in the 
form of an official proclamation, maintaining stoutly that his 
death was to be regarded as a glorious and patriotic end, and 
bidding the people on no account to interfere with the 
execution of his sentence. Finally he wrote, with his own 
hand, a pair of valedictory scrolls, the text of which was 
widely quoted after his death all over China. The first may 
be translated as follows : — 

" The Minister dies for his Sovereign ; wives and concubines 
die for their lord. Who shall say that this is unseemly ? It 
is sad that my aged mother is ninety years of age, and my 
little daughter only seven. Who shall protect them in their 
old age and tender youth ? How shall that filial piety be 
fulfilled which a man owes to his parent ? The Sovereign 
commanded, and the Minister obeyed. I slew others ; now, 
in my turn, am I slain. Why should I regret it ? Only one 
cause for shame have I — that I have served my Sovereign 
all these years, and have held high rank in three provinces, 
without displaying merit more conspicuous than a grain of 
sand in the desert or a drop of water in the ocean. Alas, 
that I should thus unworthily requite the Imperial bounty." 

And the second reads : — 

"The Minister has by his guilt incurred the sentence of 
decapitation. At this moment there is no thought in my 
mind except the hope that my death may be as glorious as 
my life has been honest.^ I would far rather die than pine 
away the rest of my life in degrading imprisonment. I have 

1 This was no empty boast. Yii Hsien, cold-blooded fanatic that he was, 
bore a most honom-able name for absolute integrity and contempt for wealth. 
He died in poverty, so miserable, that amongst all his clothes there was not 
one suit new enough to be fittingly used for his burial robes. His name is 
still held in high honour by the people of Shansi, who sing the praises of 
his Governorship, and who claim that his proud spirit it was which protected 
their Province from being invaded by the foreigners. They erected a shrine 
to his memory, but it was demolished to appease the foreign Powers. 

873 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

ill-requited Her Majesty's kindness. Who shall now relieve 
her grief? I sincerely hope that you, the Statesmen who 
surround the Throne, may yet find means to restore our 
fallen fortunes, and that you will honourably fulfil your 
bounden duty in ministering to the distress of their Imperial 
Majesties." 

On the following day, at one o'clock of the afternoon, 
Yii Hsien's head was severed from his body, in the presence 
of a great crowd, which greeted his end with sounds of 
lamentation. 

The Death of CKi Hsiu. — Ch'i Hsiu was executed, together 
with Hsii Ching-yu, outside the wall of the Tartar city, in 
Peking, early one morning in February, 1901, the execution 
being witnessed by more than one European. When in- 
formed that he was to die, Ch'i Hsiu's only question was : 
" By whose commands ? " and when told that a Decree had 
come from Hsi-an fu, he said, " It is by the will of the 
Empress Dowager ; I die happy then, so long as it is not by 
order of the foreigners." This Grand Councillor had been 
arrested several months before by the Japanese, and Prince 
Ch'ing had been able to obtain his release on the ground that 
his aged mother was very ill ; but when she subsequently 
died, he strongly advised Ch'i Hsiu "to make his filial 
piety coincide with his loyalty by committing suicide." 
Coming from Prince Ch'ing, the suggestion was one hardly 
to be misunderstood, but Ch'i Hsiu failed to act upon it, 
thereby incurring a certain amount of criticism. 



374 



XXII 

THE OLD BUDDHA PENITENT 

When the wrath of the Powers had been appeased by the 
death and banishment of the leading Boxers, and when the 
Empress Dowager had come to reaHse that her future pohcy 
must be one of concihation and reform, she proceeded first 
of all to adjust the annals of her reign for the benefit of 
posterity, in the following remarkable Edict (13th February, 
1901):— 

" In the summer of last year, the Boxers, after bringing 
about a state of war, took possession of our Capital and 
dominated the very Throne itself. The Decrees issued 
at that time were the work of wicked Princes and Ministers 
of State, who, taking advantage of the chaotic condition of 
affairs, did not hesitate to issue documents under the 
Imperial seal, which were quite contrary to our wishes. We 
have on more than one previous occasion hinted indirectly 
at the extraordinary difficulty of the position in which we 
were placed, and which left us no alternative but to act as 
we did. Our officials and subjects should have no difficulty 
in reading between the lines and appreciating our meaning. 

" We have now punished all the guilty, and we hereby 
order that the Grand Secretariat shall submit for our perusal 
aU Decrees issued between the 24th day of the 5th moon and 
the 20th day of the 7th moon (20th June to 14th August), so 
that all spurious or illegal documents may be withdrawn and 
cancelled. Thus shall historical accuracy be attained and 
our Imperial utterances receive the respect to which they 
are properly entitled." 

375 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Having thus secured the respect of posterity, Tzii Hsi 
proceeded to make the "amende honorable," (with due 
regard to the Imperial " face,") for so many of her sins as 
she was prepared to admit. In another Decree, in the 
name of the Emperor, which gives a Munchausen account 
of the Throne's part and lot in the crisis of 1900, and a 
pathetic description of her own and the Emperor's sufferings 
during the flight, she makes solemn confession of error and 
promise of reform. As an example of the manner in which 
history is made in China, the Edict is of permanent interest 
and value. 

"A Penitential Decree 

" 26th day, 12th moon of Kuanghsu's 26th year 
{Feb. ISth, 1901). 

" Last summer the Boxers sowed the seeds of rebellion, 
which led to our being involved in a war with friendly 
Powers. Thereafter, our Capital being thrown into a state 
of great disorder, we escorted the Empress Dowager, our 
mother, on a progress of inspection throughout the Western 
Provinces. To Prince Ch'ing and to the Grand Secretary 
Li Hung-chang we entrusted full powers, and bade them 
negotiate with the foreign Ministers for the cessation of 
hostilities and a Treaty of peace. These Plenipotentiaries 
having lately telegraphed to us the twelve principal clauses 
of the proposed protocol, we have consented thereto, but at 
the same time have instructed them carefully to scrutinise 
their various provisions in the light of China's ability to 
fulfil them. 

" It having been accorded to us to retrieve our disastrous 
mistakes, we are in duty bound to promulgate this Peni- 
tential Decree, and to let every one of our subjects know how 
vast and harassing were the perplexities with which the 
Throne has been beset. 

" There are ignorant persons who believe that the recent 
crisis was partly caused by our government's support of the 
Boxers ; they must have overlooked our reiterated Decrees 
of the 5th and 6th moons, that the Boxers should be exter- 

376 



THE OLD BUDDHA PENITENT 

minated, and the Christians protected. Unfortunately these 
rebels and their evil associates placed us in a position from 
which it was impossible to escape ; we exhausted every 
possible effort of strong remonstrance, appalled at the im- 
pending ruin of our Empire. Events moved swiftly until, 
on the 21st of the 7th moon, our Capital fell ; on that day, 
both Her Majesty the Empress Dowager and ourselves 
decided to commit suicide in the presence of the tutelary 
deities of our Dynasty and the gods of the soil, thus making 
atonement and offering propitiation to the spirits of our nine 
Imperial ancestors. But, at the critical moment of dire 
lamentation and confusion, we were seized by our Princes 
and Ministers, and forcibly led away from that place where 
bullets fell like rain, and where the enemies' guns gathered 
thick as forest trees. Hastily, and with souls perturbed, we 
started on our Western tour. Were not all these disasters 
caused by the Boxers ? The imminent danger of her sacred 
Majesty, the overwhelming ruin of our ancestors' inheritance, 
our prosperous Capital turned to a howling wilderness, its 
ravines filled with the dead bodies of our greatest men : how 
can it possibly be said that the Throne could protect the 
rebels who brought such disasters upon us ? 

" There was, however, an explicable cause for the 
Boxer movement and for its disastrous results." (The 
Decree proceeds here to ascribe blame to local Magistrates 
for not administering even justice between Christians 
and non- Christians, and thus producing a state of 
discontent and unrest, which afforded opportunities to the 
Boxers, The latter received a further impetus by reason of 
the inefficiency of the Imperial troops sent to quell the first 
rising. Finally, references are made to the evil advice and 
ignorance of the highly placed clansmen and Ministers of 
State who favoured the Boxer cause. This Decree is in fact a 
complete Justification of the vieius expressed in the three 
memorials by Yiian Ch'ang and Hsii Ching-ch'eng, for which 
these patriotic officials laid down their lives. After 
describing the entry of the Boxers into Peking, and lamenting 
the position of the Throne as resembling " a tail which is too 
big to wag," the Decree proceeds) : — " Nevertheless, and while 
the Legations were being besieged, we repeatedly directed our 

377 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Ministers of the Tsungli Yamen to put a stop to hostilities, 
and at the same time to keep up communication with the 
foreign Ministers, assuring them of our kindly and sympa- 
thetic regard. This latter order, however, was not carried 
out because of the continuous artillery and rifle fire between 
the besiegers and the besieged, and it was impossible for us, 
under such conditions, to insist upon its execution. 
Supposing, by some horrible fatality, the Legations had 
actually fallen, how could China have hoped to preserve her 
integrity ? To the Throne's strenuous efforts is really due 
the avoidance of such a dreadful catastrophe, and the gifts 
of wine, fruit and water-melons to the besieged Legations, 
were an indication of Her Majesty's benevolent intentions. 
It was but natural and right that the friendly Powers should 
appreciate these our feelings, and the fact that at such a 
crisis they have respected the integrity of our Empire as a 
Sovereign State, goes to prove that the Allies attribute no 
longer any blame to the Throne. This, however, only adds 
to our wrath at the ignorance and violence of our offending 
subjects ; when we look back upon the past, we are filled 
with shame and indignation. We are convinced that, in 
these peace negotiations, the foreign Powers will not 
attempt to extract from us more than we are able to 
concede. We have ordered Prince Ch'ing and Li Hung- 
chang, negotiating this Treaty, to continue patiently in 
friendly discussion, maintaining all questions of vital 
principle, while recognising the special circumstances which 
attach to any given case. Foreign Powers are lovers of 
justice, and they are bound to consider what China is 
capable of doing if they wish to see this negotiation brought 
to a successful conclusion. To this end we expect that our 
Plenipotentiaries will display their virtue of patriotism to 
the very best of their ability. 

" At the time of the terror in Peking, our provincial 
authorities were ordered to keep the peace in their respective 
provinces, and to take no part in provoking hostilities. If 
the Southern and Eastern parts of our Empire enjoyed full 
protection from disorders, the fact was solely due to our 
Decrees, which insisted upon the rigid maintenance of 
peace. The trade of foreign Powers was in no way injured, 

378 



THE OLD BUDDHA PENITENT 

our Viceroys and Governors being able to preserve normal 
conditions in those parts of our Empire. As regards the 
Southern provinces, however, which are always talking 
loudly of strengthening their defences, it cannot be gainsaid 
that, upon the outbreak of any trouble, they fall into a state 
of hopeless confusion. Caring nothing for the innumerable 
difficulties which beset our Throne, they stand idly by, 
contenting themselves with delivering oracular opinions and 
catch-words, and they even go so far as to reproach their 
Sovereign, the father of his people. We would have 
them bear in mind that when our Imperial chariot departed 
in haste from the Forbidden City, the moaning of the wind 
and the cry of the heron overhead seemed to our startled 
ears as the tramp of an advancing enemy. As we fled 
through Ch'ang-ping chou northward to Hslian-hua, we 
personally attended on the wants of the Empress 
Dowager. We were both clad in the meanest of garments, 
and to relieve our hunger we were scarcely able to obtain a 
dish of beans or porridge. Few of our poorest subjects 
have suffered greater hardships of cold and hunger than 
befell us in this pitiful plight. We wonder whether those 
who call themselves our faithful Ministers and servants have 
ever taken real thought of their bounden duty towards their 
afflicted and outraged Sovereigns ? 

" To sum up the matter in a word, is it not the case that, 
when either our Statesmen or our people are guilty of any 
offence, it is upon our Imperial persons that the blame must 
fall ? In recalling this fact to mind, we do not desire to 
rake up bygone offences, but rather because it is our duty to 
warn our subjects against their repetition. For the past 
twenty years, whenever difficulties have arisen with foreign 
nations, it has been our duty to issue solemn warnings and 
reproofs. But the saying which is in common use, that we 
' sleep on brushwood and taste gall ' has, by lapse of time, 
become almost meaningless ; when we talk of putting our 
house in order, and reforming our finances, the words have 
no real significance. The time of danger once over, favouritism 
and the neglect of public business go on as of old ; as of old, 
money purchases rank, and the Throne continues to be 
persistently misled. Let our officials ask themselves in the 

379 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

silence of the night watches whether, even had there been 
no Boxer rebeUion, China could possibly have become a 
great Power ? Even before these disasters occurred there was 
great difficulty in maintaining our position as a nation, and 
now, after this awful visitation, it must be obvious to the 
dullest amongst us that our weakness and poverty have been 
greatly increased. To our Ministers of State, who have 
received high favour from the Throne, we would say that, 
at this time of our nation's history, it is essential to display 
new qualities of integrity and patriotism. Taxation should 
now be re-arranged in such a manner as to enable us to repay 
the foreign indemnities, while bearing in mind the poverty 
of the lower classes of the people. In the selection of officials, 
good character should be considered the first essential, and 
men of talent should be encouraged to the utmost, 

" The whole duty of a Minister of State may be summed 
up in two words : to abolish corrupt tendencies, and to put 
off the abuses of former days. Justice and energy should 
be the principles guiding towards economical and military 
efficiency ; on this the spirit of the nation and its future 
depend as upon its very life blood. 

"For nearly thirty years our mother, the Empress 
Dowager, has laboured without ceasing to instruct us and 
train us in the right way, and now, at one blow, all the 
results of her labour are brought to nought. We cannot 
but remember the abomination of desecration which has 
overthrown our ancestral shrines and the temples of our 
gods. Looking to the North, we think upon our Capital 
ruined and profaned, upon the thousands of our highest 
officials whose families have lost their all, of the millions 
of our subjects whose lives and property have been sacrificed 
in this cataclysm. We can never cease to reproach ourselves : 
how then should we reproach others ? Our object in issuing 
this solemn warning is to show that the prosperity or the 
ruin of a State depends solely upon the energy or apathy 
of its rulers and people, and that the weakness of an 
Empire is the direct result of rottenness in its administration. 
We desire to reiterate our commands that friendly relations 
with foreign Powers are to be encouraged, that at the same 
time our defences are to be strengthened, that freedom of 

380 



THE OLD BUDDHA PENITENT 

speech and the employment of trustworthy servants are to 
be encouraged. We expect obedience to these commands, 
and sincere patriotism from our subjects. Earnestly the 
Empress Dowager and ourselves pray that it may be brought 
home to our Ministers of State, that only out of suffering 
is wisdom developed, and that a sense of duty insists upon 
unceasing effort. Let this Decree be made known through- 
out the entire Empire." 

This Edict was issued in February, coincidently with Her 
Majesty's acceptance of the conditions imposed by the 
Powers in the peace negotiations at Peking. From that 
date until, in June, the terms of the Protocol were definitely 
settled by the plenipotentiaries, her attitude continued to be 
one of nervous apprehension, while the discomfort of life at 
Hsi-an, as well as the advice repeatedly given her by 
Jung Lu and the provincial Viceroys, combined to make her 
look forward with impatience to the day when she might set 
out for her capital. 

There remained only one source of difficulty, namely, the 
presence of Prince Tuan's son, the Heir Apparent, at her 
Court. Tzu Hsi was well aware that she could hardly look 
for cordial relations with the representatives of the Powers 
at Peking, or for sympathy abroad, so long as this son of the 
Boxer chief remained heir to the Throne. It would clearly 
be impossible, in the event of his becoming Emperor, for 
him to consent to his father remaining under sentence of 
banishment, and equally impossible to expect the Powers to 
consent to Prince Tuan's rehabilitation and return. Yet the 
youth had been duly and solemnly appointed to succeed to 
the Throne, a thing not lightly to be set aside. Once again 
the Old Buddha showed that the sacred laws of succession 
were less than a strong woman's will. 

Politics apart, it was common knowledge that Tzu Hsi 
had for some time repented of her choice of Prince Tuan's 
ill-mannered, uncouth son as Heir Apparent. More than 
once had she been brought to shame by his wild, and some- 

381 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

times disgraceful, conduct. Even in her presence, the lad 
paid little heed to the formalities of Court etiquette, and 
none at all to the dignity of his own rank and future position. 
TzLi Hsi was therefore probably not sorry of the excuse for 
deposing him from that high estate. In the Decree 
cancelling his title to the Throne, she observed that his 
father, Prince Tuan, had brought the Empire to the verge 
of ruin, and that the guilt which he had thus incurred 
towards his august ancestors could never be wiped out. In 
order to save the " face " of the Heir Apparent and her own, 
in a difficult position, the Edict describes him as being fully 
convinced of the impossibility of his succeeding to the 
Throne under existing conditions, and that he himself had 
therefore petitioned Her Majesty to cancel her previous 
decision. In granting this request and directing him to 
remove himself forthwith from the Palace precincts, the 
Empress conferred upon him the rank of an Imperial Duke 
of the lowest grade, excusing him at the same time from 
performance of any official duties in that capacity. By this 
decision she meant to mark the contempt into which the 
Heir Apparent had fallen, for the rank thus granted him 
was a low one, and, without any official duties or salary, he 
was condemned to a life of poverty and obscurity. This 
fallen Heir to the Dragon Throne is a well-known figure 
to-day in the lowest haunts of the Chinese City at Peking : 
a drunkard and disreputable character, living the life of 
a gambler, notorious only as a swashbuckler of romantic 
past and picturesque type, — one who, but for adverse 
fate and the accursed foreigner, would have been Emperor 
of China at this moment. 

Having deposed him, the Empress let it be known that 
the selection of an heir to the disconsolate shade of T'ung- 
Chih would be postponed " until a suitable candidate should 
be found," an intimation generally understood to mean that 
the vita] question of providing an heir in legitimate and 
proper succession to the Throne could not well be determined 

382 



THE OLD BUDDHA PENITENT 

until China's foreign relations, as well as her internal affairs, 
had been placed upon a basis of greater security. It is 
curious to note how, in all such utterances, it appears to 
have been tacitly understood that the Emperor Kuang Hsii 
was a "bad life." 

Thus, in exile, the Old Buddha wore philosophically the 
white sheet of penance and burned the candle of expiation, 
preparatory to re-entering anon upon a new lease of power 
in that Peking where, as she well knew, the memory of the 
foreigner is short and his patience long. In June, 1901, the 
terms of peace were settled ; on the 7th September the 
Peace Protocol was solemnly signed by the representatives of 
all the Powers, that " monument of collective inefficiency " 
which was to sow the seeds of trouble to last for many 
years to come. At Hsi-an " in the profound seclusion of the 
Palace " she knew remorse, not unstimulated by fear ; on 
the return journey to her capital (from 20th October, 1901, 
to 6th January, '^1902), while preparing her arts and graces to 
captivate the barbarian, she was still a victim to doubt and 
apprehension. Meanwhile, at Peking, the mandarin world, 
reassured by the attitude of the peace negotiators and their 
terms, was fast shedding its garments of fear and peacocking 
as of yore, in renewed assurance of its own indisputable 
superiority. Evidence of this spirit was to be met with on 
all sides, gradually coming to its fine flower in the subsequent 
negotiations for the revision of the commercial Treaties, and 
bringing home once more, to those who study these things, 
the unalterable truth of the discovery made years ago by one 
of the earliest British representatives in China, namely, that 
" this people yields nothing to reason and everything to 
fear." 

One of the most remarkable instances of this revival of 
the mandarin's traditional arrogance of superiority occurred, 
significantly enough, in connection with the penitential 
mission of the Emperor's brother. Prince Ch'un (now 
Regent) to Berlin, an episode which threatened for a 

383 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

moment to lead to a rupture between Germany and China. 
By Article 1 of the Peace Protocol, Prince Ch'un had been 
specially designated for this mission to convey in person to 
the German Emperor the regrets of the Chinese Government 
for the murder of Baron von Ketteler. He left Peking for 
the purpose on the 12th July, 1901, with definite instructions 
as to the manner in which the Chinese Government's regrets 
were to be expressed. The German Emperor's proposals as 
to the form of ceremony to be followed in this matter were 
regarded by Prince Ch'un as incompatible with his instruc- 
tions, and it will be remembered that, after some hesitation 
on the part of the German Government, the Chinese policy 
of passive resistance eventually carried the day. The 
following telegraphic correspondence on the subject is of 
permanent interest. Prince Ch'un (whose personal name is 
Tsai Feng) telegraphed from Germany on the 26th Sep- 
tember to the Peace Plenipotentiaries, Prince Ch'ing and Li 
Hung-chang, as follows : — 

" 1 have duly received the Grand Council's message, and 
note that I am commanded to act as circumstances may 
require, and that a middle course is suggested as expedient. 
I fully appreciate the intelligent caution of your policy, and 
fortunately had already taken steps to act in the sense 
indicated. On the 14th of this moon the German Emperor 
had given orders to stop preparations for the ceremony, but 
as I noticed that the Royal train had not been withdrawn 
nor had his aide-de-camp left my suite, I inferred that there 
was a possibility of his yielding the points in dispute. 
Accordingly, after a long discussion of the situation with 
Yin Ch'ang, I directed him to write in German to Jeng- 
yintai ^ requesting his friendly intervention at the Foreign 
Office with a definite explanation that China could not pos- 
sibly agree that the mission should be received kneeling, that 
Germany had nothing to gain on insisting upon such a 
procedure, and that the only result of a fiasco would be to 1 
make both countries appear extremely ridiculous. I there- ; 

^ The Chinese rendering of a German name. 
384 



THE OLD BUDDHA PENITENT 

fore begged that the Emperor should accede to my personal 
appeal and waive the point. At the same time 1 requested 
the German gentleman who acts as Chinese Consul for 
Bavaria to address the Foreign Office to the same effect, and 
with a request that we might enter upon discussion of the 
point. Four days later I directed Lii Hai-huan to return 
to his post at Berlin to make such arrangements as might 
be possible, and on the following day I telegraphed to him a 
summary of the Grand Council's views on the matter. In 
the afternoon of the 20th I received the Consul for Bavaria, 
who informed me that he had received a telegram from the 
Foreign Office inquiring when I proposed to start for Berlin, 
and hoping that I would do so speedily, as the Emperor had 
now consented to waive the question of our kneeling, but 
required that only Yin Ch'ang should accompany me when 
presenting the letter of regret, the remainder of my suite to 
remain in another place. 

" The same evening I received a message from Lii Hai- 
huan, stating that the Emperor would undoubtedly receive 
me, and that, since all other difficult questions had been 
settled, His Majesty wished to leave for the country in a few 
days. Under these circumstances I did not consider it 
advisable to insist too strictly on minor details of etiquette, 
being pressed for time, and I therefore requested the German 
Emperor's Chamberlain to have a special train prepared for 
my journey. We reached Potsdam at 8 p.m. on the 21st ^ ; 
I was met by a General sent by the Emperor with his state 
carriage. Myself and my suite were lodged in the Palace, 
where every attention was shown to us, and it was arranged 
that I should fulfil my mission on the following day, after 
depositing a wreath on the grave of the late Empress. On 
the morning of the following day I visited her tomb, and at 
noon the state carriage came to take me to the New Palace, 
where, after being ushered into the Emperor's presence, I 
read aloud Their Majesties' complimentary letter. The 
members of my suite were awaiting in an adjoining apart- 
ment. After the ceremony I was escorted back to my 
residence, and at 2 p.m. the Emperor came to call upon me. 
He was very cordial and remained talking with me for a long 

^ This is the Chinese date ; the day of the audience was the 4th September. 

385 c c 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

time. By his orders a steam launch was provided for me, in 
which I visited the Lake and Peacock Island ; on the following 
day I saw a review of the troops, and was presented to the 
Empress. The Emperor begged me to remain longer in 
Berlin, suggesting that I should visit the arsenals and inspect 
the fleet under Prince Henry at Stettin. I could scarcely 
decline these polite attentions, and after visiting the Empress 
I took lodging in an hotel at Berlin. Thanks to the glorious 
prestige of our Empire, matters have thus been satisfactorily 
settled, and the knowledge that my mission has been satis- 
factorily carried out will, I hope, bring comfort to Their 
Imperial Majesties in their anxiety. I beg that you will 
memorialise the Throne accordingly. Tsai Feng." 

The Empress Dowager was pleased to express her approval 
of the result of this mission, which in the eyes of the Chinese 
Government was undoubtedly one of those diplomatic 
triumphs which China appears to attain most easily when 
her material resources have completely failed. Reading the 
above despatch, it is difficult to realise that the Prince's 
mission had for its object the expiation of a brutal murder 
committed, with the full approval of the Chinese Govern- 
ment and Court, on the representative of a friendly nation. 
The opinion is commonly believed, held by the Legations at 
Peking, that the present Regent has learned much since he 
returned from that penitential mission to the German capital. 
During the present year his brothers have been engaged on 
missions ostensibly intended to acquire knowledge for the 
sorely-needed reorganisation of China's army and navy, 
missions which have been received with royal honours by 
almost every civilised Power ; but there are many close 
observers of the changing conditions at Peking who see in 
these missions merely a repetition of farces that have often 
been played before, and an attempt to gain prestige in the 
eyes of the Chinese people for the Regent's family and the 
Court, rather than any definite intention or desire to reform 
the official system. 

386 




His Highness Prince Tsai Hsun. 

Brother of the late Emperor and Present Regent — recently head of the Naval Mission to Europe 

and America. 



XXIII 
THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

The state of mind of the Empress Dowager during the 
flight from the Capital, and subsequently while the Court 
remained in exile at Hsi-an, was marked by that same 
quality of indecision and vacillating impulse which had 
characterised her actions throughout the Boxer crisis and 
the siege of Peking. This may be ascribed partly to her 
advancing age and partly to the conflicting influences of 
astrologers and fortune-tellers, to whose advice she attached 
the greatest importance in all times of peril. We have dealt 
in another place with her marked susceptibility to omens 
and superstitious beliefs ; its effect is most noticeable, 
however, at this stage of her life, and was conspicuous in 
matters of small detail throughout the return journey to 
Peking. 

The influence of Jung Lu at Hsi-an, and that of Li 
Hung-chang at Peking, had been systematically exercised to 
induce Her Majesty to return to the Capital ; but until the 
Peace Protocol conditions had been definitely arranged, and 
until she had been persuaded to decree adequate punishment 
upon the Boxer leaders, the predominant feeling in her mind 
was evidently one of suspicion and fear, as was shown when 
she ordered the hurried flight from T'ai-yiian fu to Hsi-an. 
The influence of Li Hung-chang, who, from the outset, had 
realised the folly committed by the Chinese Government in 

387 c c 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

approving the attack upon the Legations, was exercised to 
create in the mind of Her Majesty a clearer sense of the 
folly of that policy. At the height of the crisis (21st July, 
1900), realising that the foreign forces brought to bear upon 
China were steadily defeating both Boxers and Imperial 
troops, she appointed Li Hung-chang to be Viceroy of 
Chihh, and directed that he should proceed from Canton 
with all haste, there being urgent need of the services of a 
diplomat versed in foreign aiFairs. Her Majesty went so far 
as to suggest that he should proceed from Shanghai to 
Tientsin in a Russian vessel which "he might borrow for 
the purpose." Li Hung-chang's reply, telegraphed to 
Yiian Shih-k'ai for transmission to the Throne, while 
outwardly respectful, clearly implies that Her Majesty has 
been to blame for the disasters then occurring. " I am 
sincerely grateful," he says, " for Your Majesty's gratifying 
confidence in me, but cannot help recalling to mind the folly 
which has now suddenly destroyed that structure of 
reformed administration which, during my twenty years' 
term of office as Viceroy of Chihli, I was able to build up 
not unsuccessfully. I fear it will not be possible for me to 
resume the duties of this difficult post at a time of crisis 
like the present, destitute as I am of all proper and material 
resources." He proceeds even to criticise Her Majesty's 
suggestion as to his journey, observing that "Russia 
possesses no vessel at Shanghai, and would certainly refuse 
to lend if she had one, in view of the state of war now 
existing." Finally, he excuses himself for deferring his 
departure, on the ground that the British Minister had 
requested him not to leave until the foreign Ministers had 
been safely escorted from Peking to Tientsin. " I do not 
know," says he, " if any such arrangements for safely 
escorting them can be made," and therefore concludes by 
asking Yiian to inform the Throne that he will start north- 
wards, journeying by land, " as soon as his health permits 
it." To this plain-spoken message from the great Viceroy, 

388 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

Tzii Hsi replied in two lines of equally characteristic direct- 
ness : — Li Hung-chang is to obey our earlier Decree, and to 
make all haste northwards. The crisis is serious. Let him 
make no further excuses for delay." 

In spite of these peremptory orders, Li Hung-chang, who 
had a very definite conception of his own predicament, 
remained at Shanghai, ostensibly negotiating, but in reality 
waiting, to see what would be the outcome of the siege of 
the Legations. He was interviewed by The Times corre- 
spondent at Shanghai on the 23rd of July, and then stated 
that he would not proceed to his post in the north until 
convinced by clear proofs that the Empress Dowager had 
seen the folly of her ways, and was prepared to adopt a 
conciliatory poUcy towards the outraged foreign Powers. 
At the end of July, when it became clear to him that the 
Court had determined on flight, he forwarded by special 
courier a very remarkable Memorial, in which he called the 
Throne to task in the plainest possible terms, and urged an 
immediate change of policy. This Memorial reached the 
Empress before her departure from Peking ; certain extracts 
from it are well worth reproduction, as showing Li Hung- 
chang at his best, and displaying that quality of courageous 
intelligence which made him for twenty years the foremost 
official in China and a world-wide celebrity : — 

" It is to be remembered that between this, our Empire 
of China, and the outer barbarians, hostilities have frequently 
occurred since the remotest antiquity, and our national 
history teaches that the best way to meet them is to deter- 
mine upon our policy only after carefully ascertaining their 
strength as compared with our own. Since the middle of 
the reign of Tao-Kuang the pressure of the barbarians on 
our borders has steadily increased, and to-day we are brought 
to desperate straits indeed. In 1860 they invaded the 
Capital and burnt the Summer Palace ; His Majesty Hsien- 
Feng was forced to flee, and thus came to his death. It is 
only natural that His Majesty's posterity should long to 

,389 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

avenge him to the end oPtime, and that your subjects should 
contmue to cherish undying hopes of revenge. But since 
that time, France has taken from us Annam, the whole of 
that dependency being irretrievably lost ; Japan has fought 
us, and ousted us from Korea. Even worse disasters and 
loss of territory were, however, to follow : Germany seized 
Kiaochao ; Russia followed by annexing Port Arthur and 
Talienwan ; England demanded Wei-hei-wei and Kowloon, 
together with the extension of the Shanghai Settlements, 
and the opening of new treaty ports inland ; and France 
made further demands for Kuang-Chou wan. How could 
we possibly maintain silence under such grievous and repeated 
acts of aggression ? Craven would be the man who would 
not seek to improve our defences, and shameless would be 
he who did not long for the day of reckoning. I myself 
have enjoyed no small favours from the Throne, and much 
is expected of me by the nation. Needless for me to say 
how greatly I would rejoice were it possible for China to 
enter upon a glorious and triumphant war ; it would be the 
joy of my closing days to see the barbarian nations subju- 
gated at last in submissive allegiance, respectfully making 
obeisance to the Dragon Throne. Unfortunately, however, 
I cannot but recognise the melancholy fact that China is 
unequal to any such enterprise, and that our forces are in no 
way competent to undertake it. Looking at the question as 
one aiFecting chiefly the integrity of our Empire, who would 
be so foolish as to cast missiles at a rat in the vicinity of a 
priceless piece of porcelain ? It requires no augur's skill in 
divination to foresee that eggs are more easily to be cracked 
than stones. Let us consider one recent incident in proof of 
this conclusion. Recently, in the attack by some tens of 
thousands of Boxers and Imperial troops upon the foreign 
Settlements at Tientsin, there were some two or three 
thousand foreign soldiers to defend them ; yet, after ten 
days of desperate fighting, only a few hundred foreigners 
had been slain, while no less than twenty thousand Chinese 
were killed and as many more wounded. Again, there are no 
real defences or fortified positions in the Legations at Peking, 
nor are the foreign Ministers and their Legation staffs 
trained in the use of arms ; nevertheless, Tung Fu-hsiang's 

390 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

hordes have been bombarding them for more than a month, 
and have lost many thousands of men in the vain attempt to 
capture the position. 

" The fleets of the Allied Powers are now hurrying forward 
vast bodies of their troops ; the heaviest artillery is now being 
brought swiftly to our shores. Has China the forces to meet 
them ? Does she possess a single leader capable of resisting 
this invasion ? If the foreign Powers send 100,000 men, 
they will easily capture Peking, and Your Majesties will then 
find escape impossible. You will no doubt endeavour once 
more to flee to Jehol, but on this occasion you have no com- 
mander like Sheng Pao to hold back the enemies' forces from 
pursuit ; or, perhaps, you may decide to hold another Peace 
Conference, hke that at Shimonoseki, in 1895 ? But the con- 
ditions to-day existing are in no way similar to those of 
that time, when Marquis Ito was willing to meet me as your 
Minister Plenipotentiary. When betrayed by the Boxers 
and abandoned by all, where will your Majesties find a single 
Prince, Councillor, or Statesman able to assist you effectively ? 
The fortunes of your house are being staked upon a single 
throw ; my blood runs cold at the thought of events to come. 
Under any enlightened Sovereign these Boxers, with their 
ridiculous claims of supernatural powers, would most assuredly 
have been condemned to death long since. Is it not on record 
that the Han Dynasty met its end because of its belief in 
magicians, and in their power to confer invisibility? Was 
not the Sung Dynasty destroyed because the Emperor 
believed ridiculous stories about supernatural warriors clad 
in miraculous coats of mail ? 

" I myself am nearly eighty years of age, and my death 
cannot be far distant ; I have received favours at the hands 
of four Emperors. If now I hesitate to say the things that 
are in my mind, how shall I face the spirits of the sacred 
ancestors of this Dynasty when we meet in the halls of 
Hades ? I am compelled therefore to give utterance to this 
my solemn prayer, and to beseech Your Majesties to put 
away from you at once these vile magic workers, and to have 
them summarily executed. 

"You should take steps immediately to appoint a high 
official who shall purge the land of this villainous rabble, and 

391 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

who shall see to it that the foreign Ministers are safely 
escorted to the headquarters of the Allied Armies. In spite 
of the great heat, I have hurried northwards from Canton 
to Shanghai, where your Majesties' Decrees urging me to 
come to Peking have duly reached me. Any physical 
weakness, however serious, would not have deterred me 
from obeying this summons, but perusal of your Decrees 
has led me to the conclusion that Your Majesties have not 
yet adopted a policy of reason, but are still in the hands of 
traitors, regarding these Boxers as your dutiful subjects, with 
the result that unrest is spreading and alarm universal. 
Moreover, I am here in Shanghai without a single soldier 
under my command, and even should I proceed with all 
haste in the endeavour to present myself at your Palace 
gates, I should meet with innumerable dangers by the way, 
and the end of my journey would most probably be that I 
should provide your rebellious and turbulent subjects with 
one more carcass to hack into mincemeat. I shall therefore 
continue in residence here for the present, considering ways 
and means for raising a military force and for furnishing 
supplies, as well as availing myself of the opportunity of 
ascertaining the enemies' plans, and making such diplomatic 
suggestions as occur to me to be useful. As soon as my 
plans are complete, I shall proceed northwards with all 
possible speed." 

The plain-spoken advice of Li Hung-chang was not with- 
out effect on the Empress Dowager. The Decrees issued by 
her in the name of the Emperor from Huai-lai on the 19th 
and 20th of August are the first indications given to the out- 
side world that she had definitely decided on a policy of 
conciliation so as to render possible her eventual return to the 
capital — an event which, as she foresaw, would probably be 
facilitated by the inevitable differences and jealousies already 
existing among the Allies. 

In the Edict of the 19th of August, after explaining that 
the whole Boxer crisis and the attack on the Legations was 
the result of differences between Christian and non-Christian 
Chinese, she querulously complains that the foreign Powers, 

392 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

although doubtless well meaning in their efforts to "ex- 
terminate the rebels," are behaving in a manner which 
suggests aggressive designs towards China, and which shows 
a lamentable disregard of proper procedure and friendliness. 
She naively observes that the Chinese Government had been 
at the greatest pains to protect the lives and property of 
foreigners in Peking, in spite of many difficulties, and 
expresses much surprise at such an evil return being made 
for her invariable kindness and courtesy. If it were not for 
the unbounded capacity of foreign diplomats, fully proved 
in the past, in the matter of credulity where Chinese state- 
craft is concerned, it would be difficult to regard utterances 
like these as the work of an intelligent ruler. But Tzu Hsi 
was, as usual, justified, for at the very time when these 
Decrees were issued, Russia was already using very similar 
arguments, and making excuses for the Chinese government, 
in pursuance of her own policy at Peking. 

In the conclusion of the Decree above referred to. Her 
Majesty orders Jung Lu, Hsli T'ung and Ch'ung Ch'i 
to remain in Peking to act as peace negotiators, but she 
admits that, in dealing with foreigners supported by troops 
and flushed with success, it may be difficult for them at the 
outset to determine on a satisfactory line of procedure. She 
leaves it to these plenipotentiaries, therefore, to determine 
whether the best course would be to telegraph to the 
respective Foreign Offices of the countries concerned, or to 
consult with the Consuls -General at Shanghai (sic), with 
a view to obtaining friendly intervention ! It could not 
escape so shrewd a person as Tzu Hsi that the atmosphere of 
Peking at this juncture was not likely to be favourable 
to her purposes, and that it would be easier to hoodwink the 
Foreign Offices and the Consuls at Shanghai than those who 
had just been through the siege. 

A Decree of the following day, also in the name of the 
Emperor, is couched in a very different strain — a pathetic 
admission of the Throne's guilt, a plea for the sympathy 

393 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

of his people, and an exhortation to return to ways of wisdom. 
" Cleanse your hearts, and remove all doubt and suspicion 
from your minds, so as to assist us, the Emperor, in our 
shortcomings. We have been utterly unworthy, but the 
time is at hand when it shall be for us to prove that Heaven 
has not left us without sense of our errors and deep remorse." 
The whole document reads with an unusual ring of sincerity, 
accepting, in the name of the Emperor, full blame for all 
the disasters which had overtaken the country, while remind- 
ing the official class that the first cause of these calamities 
dates back to the time when they learned and adopted habits 
of inveterate sloth and luxury. From depths of contrition, 
the Edict admits fully the Throne's responsibility, " We, the 
Lord of this Empire, have failed utterly in warding off 
calamities from our people, and we should not hesitate 
for one moment to commit suicide, in order to placate 
our tutelary deities and the gods of the soil, but we 
cannot forget that duty of filial piety and service which 
we owe to our sacred and aged mother, the Empress 
Dowager." 

The policy of reform is now clearly enunciated and 
outlined as an essential condition of the future government 
of the Empire. Provincial and metropolitan officials are 
ordered to proceed at once to join the Court, in order that 
the reform programme may be speedily initiated ; the 
Yangtsze Viceroys are thanked for preserving order in 
accordance with " treaty stipulations," and Chinese converts 
to Christianity are once more assured of the Throne's 
protection and good-will. 

These utterances of the Throne, which lost nothing in 
their presentation to the respective Powers by Prince Ch'ing 
and his colleagues, soon produced the desired effisct, and 
reassured the Throne and its advisers as to their personal 
safety. Accordingly, early in September, we find all the 
Viceroys and high officials of the Provinces uniting in a 
Memorial, whereby the Court is urged to return at once to 

394 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

the Capital, advice which would never have been given had 
there been any question of violent measures being taken by 
the Allies against the Empress Dowager. At this time the 
question of the future location of the Chinese Capital was 
being widely discussed at Court, and there was much 
conflicting advice on the subject. The Viceroys' Memorial 
was drafted by Yiian Shih-k'ai and forwarded by him to 
Liu K'un-yi, at Nanking, for transmission ; it definitely 
blames the Boxers and their leaders for the ruin which had 
come upon China, and rejoices at the thought that "the 
perplexities which embarrassed your Majesties in the past 
have now given place to a clearer understanding of the 
situation." Noting the possibility of the Court's leaving T'ai- 
yuan fu and making " a further progress " westwards to 
Hsi-an, the Memorialists deplore the idea and proceed to 
show that such a step would be unwise as well as in- 
convenient. As an example of the way in which Chinese 
Ministers of State deal with questions of high policy and 
strategy, the following extract from this Memorial is not 
without interest : — 

" It is true that, in times past, our Capital has been shifted 
on more than one occasion of national danger, but in those 
days our enemies were not able to push their armies far into 
the interior of our country for indefinite periods, and were 
compelled to withdraw after brief expeditions. The position 
of affairs to-day, however, is very different, so that we can 
obtain no reliable guidance from precedents of history. 
As regards the province of Shensi, it has always been a 
centre of wars and rebellions ; its people are poverty stricken, 
and there is no trade there. Seven centuries ago, Hsi-an was 
an Imperial city, but is now anything but prosperous. Its 
vicinity to Kansu and the New Dominion territories, infested 
with Mahomedan rebels and adjoining the Russian Empire, 
renders it most unsuitable as a site for your Majesties' 
Capital. Supposing that the Allies, flushed with success, 
should determine on an advance westwards, what is there to 
prevent them from doing so ? If ten thousand miles of 

395 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOAVAGER 

ocean have not stopped them, are they hkely to be turned 
back from a shorter expedition by land ? " 

After referring to the fact that the cradle of the Dynasty 
and the tombs of its ancestors are situated near Peking, and 
that it is geographically best fitted to be the centre of 
Government, the Memorialists remind the Throne that the 
foreign Powers have promised to vacate Peking, and to 
refrain from annexing any territory if the Court will return. 
These ends, they say, will not be attained should the Court 
persist in its intention to proceed further westwards, since 
it is now the desire of the foreign Ministers that China's 
rulers should return to Peking. In the event of a permanent 
occupation of Peking by the Allies, the loss of Manchuria 
would be inevitable. The Memorialists predict partition and 
many other disasters, including financial distress, and the 
impossibility of furnishing the Throne with supplies at 
Hsi-an or any other remote corner of the Empire. If the 
Court's decision to proceed to Hsi-an is irrevocable, at least 
a Decree should now be issued, stating that its sojourn 
there will be a brief one, and that the Court will return to 
Peking upon the complete restoration of peaceful conditions. 
" The continued existence of the Empire must depend upon 
the Throne's decision upon this matter." The Memorial 
concludes by imploring their Majesties to authorise Prince 
Ch'ing to inform the foreign Ministers that the withdrawal 
of the allied armies will be followed by a definite announce- 
ment as to the Court's return. 

In a further Memorial from the Viceroys and Governors, 
it is stated that the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs had 
suggested to the Chinese Minister in St. Petersburg, that 
the location of the Capital at Hsi-an would certainly prove 
undesirable, in view of the poverty-stricken condition of the 
province, and that their Majesties would no doubt, therefore, 
proceed to Lan-chou fu, in Kansu. Referring to this interest- 
ing fact, the Memorialists observe : — 

396 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

" Those who are in favour of estabhshing the Capital at 
Hsi-an profess to claim that the Yellow River and the T'ung 
Kuan Pass constitute natural and impassible frontiers against 
attack. They forget, however, that foreign nations possess 
artillery of very long range. At T'ung Kuan the Yellow 
River is less than two miles wide, and their guns will easily 
carry twice that distance. Your Majesties have nothing but 
the native artillery, and a few inferior foreign guns, and 
would never be able to hold the position. The foreigners 
would undoubtedly penetrate far into the interior, and 
control all the waterways, thus preventing transport and 
supplies. Even if one foreign Power were to find it difficult, 
there is no doubt that it would be easy for several of them 
acting together. 

" Moreover, friendly Powers are entitled, by the law of 
civilised nations, to send their diplomatic representatives to 
our Capital. If peace be made, and the foreign Powers 
assent to the proposed change of capital, they will surely 
insist upon sending their envoys into Shensi. After their 
recent experiences, they will require to have foreign troops 
to guard their Legations, whose numbers must necessarily 
be large, in proportion to the distance from the coast. 
Foreign garrisons would thus have to be established at 
points in Honan, Shansi and Chihli, in order to maintain 
their line of communications, so that China would eventually 
be overrun by foreign troops. It is, therefore, plainly out of 
the question that the Court should leave Peking. In times 
of peace it might have been suggested, but to think of it after 
a disastrous war is impossible. The foreigners are acting 
in unison ; China is completely disorganised. They have 
ample resources and reinforcements ; China has none. If 
we have thoughts of fighting any foreign Power we must 
first form alliances with several others ; in any case nothing 
can be done before an ample supply of ordnance and muni- 
tions of war has been accumulated. This is no time for 
considering such possibilities. We, your Memorialists, 
venture to suggest that Your Majesties have failed to take 
into consideration all these facts, and in impressing them 
upon you, we earnestly beg that you may now come to a 
wise decision." 

397 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Before coming to a decision, however, Tzu Hsi required 
to be fully assured that the foreign Powers would not insist 
on her abdicating the supreme power as one of the conditions 
of peace. Convinced on that point, the hesitation which she 
had previously shown in regard to returning to Peking 
dropped from her like a garment. It had been freely 
predicted by conservative officials and the literati that the 
Old Buddha would never again wish to see her desecrated 
capital or to visit the polluted shrines of her ancestors. In 
spite of her superstitious nature, however, she was far too 
level-headed and far-seeing a woman to attach supreme 
importance to sentimental considerations, or to allow them 
to weigh heavily in the balance when the question of her 
own rulership was at stake. The hesitation which she had 
shown and the attention which she had paid to the advice of 
those who, like Chang Chih-tung, desired her to establish a 
new capital in Central China, were primarily a question of 
" face." She would only return to Peking if guaranteed the 
full dignity and power of her former position. But as the 
peace negotiations proceeded, and as it became clear to her 
that along the well-worn path of international jealousies she 
might return unpunished, and even welcomed, to Peking, 
she proceeded to make preparations for an early return. 
Fully informed each day by Prince Ch'ing of the progress 
which her plenipotentiaries were making towards the com- 
pletion of the Peace Protocol, and overjoyed at its terms, 
she waited only until the condition of the roads, always 
more or less impassable after the summer rains, had 
sufficiently improved to permit of comfortable travelling. 
During the delay necessitated by the collecting and 
packing of the enormous quantity of "tribute" collected 
by Her Majesty and the Court during their stay at Hsi-an, 
she received definite confirmation of the good news that 
her treasure vaults in the capital had not been plundered 
by the foreign troops — good news which increased her 
anxiety to return as quickly as possible to superintend 

398 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

its removal before any pilfering by the eunuchs should 
take place. 

It was on the 24th day of the 8th Moon (20th October, 
1901) that the long procession started from Her Majesty's 
temporary residence in the Governor's Yamen ; followed by 
an enormous retinue, she commenced her journey by 
sacrificing to the God of War, the guardian spirit of her 
Dynasty (and, it may be added, patron of the Boxers), at a 
small temple outside the city gates. From this onward the 
Court advanced northward by easy stages of about twenty- 
five miles a day, resting first at Ho-nan fu ; thence on to 
JC'ai-feng, where her sixty-sixth birthday was celebrated and 
where she remained for some weeks. The travelling lodges 
and other arrangements for her comfort and convenience 
along the whole line of her route were in striking contrast 
to the squalor and privation which the Court had endured in 
the flight from Peking. 

It was during her stay at K'ai-feng that the Peace Protocol 
was signed at Peking. It was also before her departure from 
that city, at the end of the 9th Moon, that Li Hung-chang 
died. His knowledge of foreign affairs and remarkable 
ability in negotiations had been of the greatest service to his 
Imperial mistress, and there is no doubt that the liberal terms 
granted to China by the victorious Allies were very largely 
due to his efforts. Her Majesty, while fully appreciating his 
ability, had never treated him with marked favour, and had 
always refused to appoint him to the Grand Council, giving 
as her excuse that she could not understand his dialect. 
Upon his death, however, she conferred upon him an honour 
which had never before been granted to any Chinese subject 
under the Dynasty, namely, that of having a shrine built to 
his memory at the capital itself, in addition to those erected 
in the provinces where he had borne office. 

It was significant of her impartial and intelligent ruler- 
ship that, although she had blamed him as originally 
responsible for the Japanese War and its disastrous results, 

399 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

she had never approved of the Emperor's hasty and vindictive 
action in removing him from the Viceroyalty of ChihU. 
Upon the signing of the Peace Protocol she conferred 
additional posthumous honours upon him, taking occasion at 
the same time, in an Imperial Decree, to congratulate and 
thank Prince Ch'ing, Yiian Shih-k'ai and others, who 
assisted in bringing about the settlement of peace terms. In 
particular she praised the loyalty of Jung Lu, " who had 
earnestly advised the annihilation of the Boxers, and who, 
in addition to other meritorious services on the Grand 
Council, had been chiefly instrumental in protecting the 
Legations." 

After a series of magnificent theatrical entertainments in 
honour of her birthday, the Court left K'ai-feng and con- 
tinued its journey to the capital. On the eve of her depar- 
ture Her Majesty took occasion sternly and publicly to 
rebuke the Manchu Prefect, Wen T'i,^ who had dared to 
advise her against returning to the capital, and to predict 
that the treacherous foreigners would certainly seize her 
sacred person — a useful piece of play to the gallery. 

At the crossing of the Yellow River, which took place in 
beautiful weather, she sacrificed to the River God, in expia- 
tion and thanksgiving. The local officials had constructed a 
magnificent barge, in the form of a dragon, upon which she 
and the ladies of the Court crossed the stream. It was 
noticed from this point onwards that wherever foreigners 
happened to be amongst the spectators of the Imperial 
cortege, she made a point of showing them particular 
attention and civility, and before her arrival in Peking she 
issued a Decree commanding that Europeans should not be 
prevented from watching the procession upon her arrival, 
and this in spite of the fact that, in accordance with the 
usual custom, the Legations had issued notices forbidding 
their nationals to appear in the streets during the passage of 

1 Wen T'i had been a censor in 1 898, but was cashiered by the Emperor for 
being reactionary. Tzii Hsi restored him to favour after the cowp d'etai. 

400 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

the Imperial cortege. Everything indicated, in fact, that 
Her Majesty now desired to concihate the European Powers 
by aU possible means, and if it be borne in mind that it was 
part of her deliberate policy thus to ingratiate herself with 
foreigners as a means of furthering her own future policy, 
her actions lose nothing of interest, while they gain some- 
thing from the humorous point of view. 

On crossing the borders of the Province of ChihH, Her 
Majesty issued a Decree, couched in almost effusive terms 
of friendliness, proclaiming that the Emperor would receive 
the foreign Ministers in audience immediately upon his 
return to the Palace, and that the reception would take 
place in the central Throne Hall of the sacred enclosure. 
Chinese, reading this Decree, and ignorant of the terms of 
the Peace Protocol which provided for this particular con- 
cession to the barbarian, would naturally regard it as a 
spontaneous mark of the Imperial clemency and goodwill. 
In the same Edict Her Majesty proclaimed her intention of 
receiving the Ministers' wives in person, intimating that she 
cherished most pleasant memories of past friendly inter- 
course with them. Here, again, we note fulfilment of a plan, 
deliberately conceived and formed upon the best classical 
models, " for dealing with strong and savage people." 

At noon on the 6th of January, 1902, the Imperial party 
arrived by special train at the temporary station which had 
been erected close to the Southern walls of Peking, and 
adjoining the old terminus at Ma-chia pu. Large pavilions, 
handsomely decorated, had been erected near the station, in 
which the Old Buddha and the Emperor were to be 
received ; they were furnished with a throne of gold lacquer, 
cloisomie altar vessels and many valuable pieces of porcelain. 
Several hundreds of the highest metropolitan officials were 
in attendance, and a special place had been provided for 
foreigners. As the long train of over thirty carriages drew 
up at the station, the keen face of the Old Buddha was seen 
anxiously scanning her surroundings from one of the windows 

401 D D 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

of her car. With her were the young Empress and the 
Princess Imperial, while the chief eunuch, Li Lien-ying, was 
in attendance. Recognising Her Majesty, every official fell 
upon his knees, whilst Chi Lu, chief officer of the House- 
hold, officiously shouted to the foreigners to remove their 
hats (which they had already done). The first to emerge 
from the train was the chief eunuch, who proceeded 
forthwith to check the long list of provincial tribute and 
treasure, mountainous loads of baggage which had travelled 
with the Court from the start and under Her Majesty's close 
personal supervision. After the eunuch came the Emperor, 
evidently extremely nervous, who, at a sign from Her 
Majesty, hurried into his sedan-chair and was swiftly borne 
away, without a word or a sign of recognition to any of the 
officials in attendance. After his departure, the Empress 
came out and stood upon the platform at the end of her 
carriage. " Quite a number of foreigners are here, I see," 
she was heard to observe. She saluted them in accordance 
with the etiquette observed by Chinese women — bowing and 
raising her crossed hands. Prince Ch'ing then advanced to 
greet Her Majesty, and with him Wang Wen-shao (who 
had succeeded Li Hung-chang as Peace Plenipotentiary). 
They invited Her Majesty to enter her chair : " There is no 
hurry," she replied. She stood for some five minutes in full 
view of the crowd, talking energetically with the bystanders, 
and looking extremely well and youthful for her age, until 
the chief eunuch returned and handed her the list of 
baggage and treasure, which she scanned with close attention 
and then returned to hira with an expression of satisfaction. 
After this, at the request of the Viceroy of Chihli (Yiian 
Shih-k'ai), the foreign manager and engineer of the railway 
were presented to her, and received her thanks for the 
satisfactory arrangements made throughout the journey. 
She then entered her chair, a larger and finer conveyance 
than that supplied to the Emperor, and was borne away 
towards the Palace ; by her side ran one of her favourite 

402 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

eunuchs repeatedly calling Her Majesty's attention to 
objects of interest. Whenever foreigners were in sight he 
would inform Her Majesty of the fact, and by one he was 
heard distinctly to say : " Look ! Old Buddha, look quickly at 
that foreign devil," whereupon the Empress smiled and 
bowed most affably. Passing through the Southern gate of 
the Chinese city, her bearers carried her straight to the large 
enceinte of the Tartar city wall at the Ch'ienmen, where 
stands the shrine dedicated to the tutelary God of the 
Manchus. Here crowds of foreigners were in waiting on 
the wall. Looking down on the courtyard towards the 
shrine, they saw the Old Buddha leave her chair and fall 
upon her knees to burn incense before the image of the God 
of War, whilst several Taoist priests chanted the ritual. 
Rising she next looked up towards the foreigners, smiling 
and bowing, before she was carried away through the gate 
into the precincts of the Forbidden City. No sooner had 
she reached the inner palace (the Ning Shou kung) at about 
2 P.M., than she commanded the eunuchs to commence 
digging up the treasure which had been buried there at the 
time of her flight ; she was gratified beyond measure to find 
that it had indeed remained untouched. 

Next, with an eye not only upon her future relations 
with foreigners but also on public opinion throughout 
the Empire, she issued a Decree conferring posthumous 
honours on the " Pearl concubine," who, as it will be 
remembered, was thrown down a well by her orders on the 
morning of the Court's flight from the Palace. In this 
Decree Her Majesty praises the virtue and admirable 
courage of the dead woman, which "led her virtuously to 
commit suicide when unable to catch up the Court on its 
departure," unwilling as she was to witness the destruction 
and pollution of the ancestral shrines. Her trustworthy 
conduct was therefore rewarded by the granting of a 
posthumous title and by promotion of one step in rank 
in the Imperial harem. The Decree was generally 

403 D D 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

regarded as fulfilling all reasonable requirements of atone- 
ment towards the deceased, for in China the dead yet live 
and move in a shadowy, but none the less real, hierarchy. 
Alive, a " Pearl concubine " more or less counted for little 
when weighed against the needs of the Old Buddha's 
policies ; once dead, however, her spirit must needs be 
conciliated and compensated. 

Many Europeans who had witnessed the arrival of the 
Empress Dowager, remained at the railway station to see 
the unloading of her long baggage train, a most interesting 
and instructive sight. First were discharged the yellow 
chairs of the young Empress and the Princess Imperial, and 
four green chairs with yellow borders for the principal 
concubines ; the other ladies of the Court followed in official 
carts, two to each vehicle. There were about ninety of them 
altogether, and the arrangements for their conveyance were 
accompanied by no little noise and confusion, the loquacity 
of some of the elder ladies being most noticeable. After 
their departure the attention of the eunuchs and minor 
officials was directed to the huge pile of the Empress 
Dowager's personal baggage, which included her cooking 
utensils and household articles in daily use. This operation, 
as well as the removal of a very large quantity of bullion, 
(every case of which was marked with the name of the 
province or city that had sent it as tribute), was for a time 
superintended by the Grand Council. But as the work was 
enough to last for several hours, it was not long before, led 
by Jung Lu, they entered their chairs and left for the City. 
It was noticed that Jung Lu seemed very infirm, and was 
supported as he walked by two attendants of almost gigantic 
stature. 

From Cheng-ting fu to Pao-ting fu, and thence to Peking, 
the Court travelled, for the first time in its history, by train. 
The following description of the journey is reprinted, by kind 
permission of the editor of The Times, from an article pub- 
lished in that paper in March, 1902. It shows an interesting 

404 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

side of the Empress Dowager's character, that of the thrifty 
mistress of her goods and chattels, and gives a clear-cut 
impression of that vigorous personality which devoted the 
same close attention to details of transport and domestic 
economy as to niceties of Court ceremonial or historical 
precedents on vital questions of State ; characteristics which 
inevitably suggest a marked resemblance between the Old 
Buddha and le petit Caporal. 

"Early on December 31st the Court arrived at Cheng- 
ting fu, escorted by a large body of cavalry and accompanied 
by an enormous suite of officials, eunuchs and servants. The 
baggage was carried by a train of carts, estimated by an eye- 
witness at three thousand. The eunuchs numbered between 
three and four hundred, and of cooks and other kitchen 
servants there were almost as many. To provide accom- 
modation for such a mass of people was impossible, especially 
as all the best quarters in the town had already been 
occupied by the high officials who, with their retainers, had 
come from the north to welcome the Empress Dowager on 
her return. For three days the Court rested in Cheng-ting 
fu, during which time the scene was one of indescribable 
confusion ; baggage, stacked haphazard, filled every available 
corner, eunuchs and servants camping around and upon it, 
stolidly enduring much physical discomfort with the apathy 
peculiar to Asiatics. Yet, so great was the cold (on the 
night of January 1st the thermometer stood at two degrees 
(Fahrenheit) below zero) that many of these wayfarers gave 
way to lamentations and tears. Officials of the lower and 
middle grades, unable to obtain a lodging, were compelled 
to pass these days in such makeshift shelter as they could 
find in the vicinity of the railway station, where swarmed a 
mob of undisciplined soldiery. On the second night a fire 
broke out in the stables of the Imperial residence, which, 
though eventually checked before much damage was done, 
added greatly to the general disorder, and might well have 
had serious results in the absence of all organisation and 
control. The definite announcement of the Court's intention 
to leave for Pao-ting fu on the 3rd of January was received 
with unmistakable relief by the hungry, motley crowd 

405 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

which represented the pomp and pride of Asia's greatest 
Empire. 

" From the Yellow River to the railway terminus at 
Cheng-ting fu — a distance of about two hundred and fifty 
miles — the ever-growing Imperial procession had travelled 
almost continuously in chairs, litters, carts, and on horse- 
back, affording a spectacle which recalled in many of its 
chief characteristics those of Europe's mediaeval ^-pageantry 
as described by Scott. Every Manchu Prince had a retinue 
of horsemen varying from thirty to a hundred in number ; 
along the frost-bound, uneven tracks which serve for roads | 
in Northern China, an unending stream of laden waggons 
creaked and groaned through the short winter's day, and 
on, guided by soldier torch-bearers, through bitter nights to 
the appointed stopping places. But for the Empress 
Dowager and the Emperor, with the Chief Eunuch and the 
ladies of the Court, there was easy journeying and a 
way literally made smooth. Throughout its entire distance 
the road over which the Imperial palanquins were borne 
had been converted into a smooth, even surface of shining 
clay, soft and noiseless under foot ; not only had every 
stone been removed, but as the procession approached 
gangs of men were employed in brushing the surface with 
feather brooms. At intervals of about ten miles well- 
appointed rest-houses had been built, where all manner of 
food was prepared. The cost of this King's highway, quite 
useless, of course, for the ordinary traffic of the country, was 
stated by a native contractor to amount roughly to fifty 
Mexican dollars for every eight yards — say £1,000 a mile — 
the clay having to be carried in some places from a great 
distance. As an example of the lavish expenditure of the 
Court and its officials, in a land where squalor is a pervading 
feature, this is typical. 

" The hour for leaving Cheng-ting fu was fixed by the 
Empress Dowager at 9.30 a.m. on January 3rd. It is sig- 
nificant of the character of this remarkable woman, now in 
her sixty-seventh year, that even in matters of detail she 
leaves nothing to chance, nothing to others ; the long arm 
of her unquestioned authority reaches from the Throne 
literally to the servants' quarters. Without creating any 

406 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

impression of fussiness, she makes a distinctly feminine 
personality felt, and the master-mind which has guided the 
destinies of China for the last forty years by no means 
disdains to concern itself in minor questions of household 
commissariat and transport. It is impossible not to reflect 
what such a woman might have been, what she might have 
done for her people, had there come into her life some 
accident or influence to show her, in their true light, the 
corruption, dishonesty, and cold-blooded cruelty of her 
reign. 

" The departure of the Court by a special train, long 
since prepared for its reception by the Belgian railway 
authorities and Sheng Hslian-huai, was fixed for 9.30 a.m. 
in accordance with Her Majesty's orders ; that Imperial and 
imperious lady, however, made her appearance at the station 
at seven o'clock, accompanied by the young Empress, the 
Imperial concubine, and the ladies-in-waiting. The Emperor 
had preceded her, and upon her arrival knelt on the platform 
to perform respectful obeisance, in the presence of an 
interested crowd. The next two hours were spent by the 
Empress, who showed no signs of fatigue, in supervision of 
the arrangements for despatching the vast accumulation of 
her personal baggage, and in holding informal audiences with 
various high dignitaries, military and civil, on the platform. 
Amongst others she sent for M. Jadot, and spent some time 
in friendly conversation with him, expressing great satisfac- 
tion at the excellent arrangements made for her comfort, and 
pleasure at exchanging the sedan chair for her luxuriously- 
appointed drawing-room car. She took pains to impress 
upon the engineer-in-chief the importance which she 
attached to keeping the Court's baggage and effects within 
reach, evincing on this subject much determination of a 
good-humoured kind. 

" Eventually, after the despatch of four freight trains, her 
mind was relieved of this anxiety, but it was to be clearly 
understood that the same personal supervision would be 
exercised at Pao-ting fu, for in no circumstances could the 
impedimenta be sent on in advance to Peking. There is a 
touch of feminine nature in this incident which can hardly 
fail to bring the Empress Dowager into some degree of 

407 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

kinship with her fellow-women in other lands ; there is also 
an implied reflection on the honesty of persons in attend- 
ance on the Court which is not without significance. 

" The scene upon the platform was one of remarkable 
interest. In utter subversion of all accepted ideas in 
regard to the seclusion and privacy in which the Chinese 
Court is supposed to live, move, and have its being, 
there was on this occasion — and indeed throughout the 
journey — no sign of either attempt or wish to guard Their 
Majesties from observation and intrusion. The crowd, 
quietly inquisitive, but showing no inclination to demonstra- 
tion of any sort, came and went at its pleasure ; Yiian 
Shih-kai's braves, who to the number of about a thousand 
travelled to Peking as the Empress Dowager's bodyguard, 
crowded around the Imperial party, invading even their 
railway carriages. While the ruler of the Empire held 
audience with some of its highest officials, none of their 
retainers were employed, as might have been expected, in 
keeping the people at a respectful distance ; the scene, in fact, 
bore striking testimony to that democratic side of the 
Chinese character wliich cannot but impress itself on every 
foreign visitor to a Viceroy's or magistrate's yamen ; in the 
present instance, however, it must have been, for all concerned, 
a new and remarkable experience. 

" To the native spectators, the ladies of the Court with 
their eunuch attendants were as much objects of interest 
as the foreign railway officials ; the Imperial concubine, 
' Chin ' (or ' Lustrous ') Kuei fei, a lively young person of 
pleasing appearance, attracting much attention. This lady, 
gaily clad and with lavishly painted face, bestowed upon 
everything connected with the train an amount of attention 
which augurs well for the future of railway enterprise in 
Chma, running from car to car and chatting volubly with 
the ladies-in-waiting. All the ladies of the Court wore 
pearls in profusion — those of the Empress being particularly 
fine — and all smoked cigarettes in place of the time-honoured 
water-pipe. Herein again, for the optimistically inclined, 
may be found a harbinger of progress. During the Empress 
Dowager's audiences, lasting sometimes over a quarter of an 
hour at a time, the Emperor stood close at her side ; invari- 

408 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

ably silent, generally listless, though his expression when 
animated is described as conveying an impression of remark- 
able intelligence. The young Empress has good features, 
marred, in European eyes, by excessive use of paint ; she, 
too, appeared to be melancholy, and showed but little 
interest in her surroundings. The Emperor and both 
Empresses were simply dressed in quiet coloured silks. 

" The special train in which, punctually at 9.30 a.m., the 
rulers of China left for their capital consisted of a locomotive 
and twenty-one carriages, arranged in the following order :— 
Nine freight cars laden with servants, sedan chairs, carts, mules, 
&c. ; a guard's van, for employes of the railway ; two first- 
class carriages (Imperial Princes) ; Emperor's special carriage ; 
first-class carriage for high officials in attendance (Jung Lu, 
Yiian Shih-k'ai, General Sung Ch'ing, Lu Ch'uan-lin, 
Governor Ts'en of Shansi, Ministers of the Household, and 
others) ; Empress Dowager's special carriage; special carriages 
of the young Empress and the Imperial concubine ; two 
second-class carriages, for eunuchs in attendance ; first-class 
carriage for the Chief Eunuch, and the ' Service ' carriage 
of M. Jadot. 

" The special carriages had been prepared at great expense 
under instructions issued by the Director- General of Railways, 
Sheng. Those of the Empress Dowager, the Emperor, and 
his consort, were luxuriously furnished with costly curios and 
upholstered in Imperial yellow silk ; each had its throne, 
divan, and reception room. Heavy window curtains had 
been thoughtfully provided in the carriages intended for the 
ladies' use ; they were not required, however, as none of the 
party showed any desire for privacy during the entire 
journey. While travelling, the carriage of the Empress 
Dowager was the general rendezvous of all the ladies, 
attended by their eunuchs, the Empress Dowager spending 
much of the time in conversation with the Chief Eunuch — 
of somewhat notorious character — and the Emperor. 

" The Empress Dowager possesses in a marked degree 
a characteristic frequently observed in masterful natures : 
she is extremely superstitious. The soothsayers and astro- 
logers of the Court at Peking enjoy no sinecure ; on the 
other hand, more attention is paid to their advice than that 

409 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

which the average memorialist obtains, and the position of 
necromancer to the Throne is not unprofitable, On the 
present occasion the sages-in-ordinary had fixed the auspicious 
hour for the Sovereign's return to Peking at 2 p.m. on 
January 7th ; M. Jadot was accordingly requested to make 
the necessary arrangements to this end, and the Empress 
Dowager repeatedly impressed upon him the importance 
which she attached to reaching the Yung-ting gate of the 
city at that particular hour. To do this, as the engineer-in- 
chief pointed out, would entail starting from Pao-ting-fu at 
7 a.m., but the determined ruler of China was not to be put 
off by any such considerations. At 6 a.m. this wonderful 
woman arrived at the station ; it was freezing hard, and the 
sand storm was raging violently ; soldiers bearing lanterns 
and torches led the way for the chair-bearers, since the day 
had not yet dawned. The scene in all its details appeals 
powerfully to the imagination. Once more the baggage 
question monopolised the Empress Dowager's attention ; 
her last freight train, laden with spoils of the southern 
provinces, preceded the Imperial train by only twenty min- 
utes. It will be realised that the august lady's requirements 
in the matter of personal supervision of her property added 
responsibility of a most serious kind to the cares — at no 
time light — of the railway staff. 

" An incident occurred at Pao-ting fu which throws a 
strong side-light upon the Empress Dowager's character. 
The high Chinese officials above mentioned, who travelled in 
the first-class carriage between the Emperor's special car 
and that of the Empress, finding themselves somewhat 
pressed for space, consulted the railway officials and obtained 
another first-class compartment, which w^as accordingly 
added to the train. Her Majesty immediately noticing this, 
called for explanations, which failed to meet with her 
approval. The extra carriage was removed forthwith, 
Yiian Shih k'ai and his colleagues being reluctantly compelled 
to resume their uncomfortably crowded quarters ; to these 
Her Majesty paid a visit of inspection before leaving the 
station, making enquiries as to the travellers' comfort, and 
expressing complete satisfaction at the arrangements gene- 
rally. 

410 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

"At 11.30 A.M., punctual to the minute, the train arrived 
at Feng-T'ai, where the Luhan Une from Lu Ko-ch'iao meets 
the Peking-Tien-tsin Railway ; here the British authorities 
took charge. The Empress Dowager was much reassured 
by the excellence of the arrangements and the punctuality 
observed ; nevertheless, she continued to display anxiety as 
to the hour of reaching Peking, frequently comparing her 
watch with railway time. To M. Jadot, who took leave of 
Their Majesties at Feng-T'ai, she expressed again the satisfac- 
tion she had derived from this her first journey by rail, 
promising to renew the experience before long and to be 
present at the official opening of communication between 
Hankow and the capital. She presented five thousand 
dollars for distribution among the European and Chinese 
employes of the line, and decorated M. Jadot with the 
order of the Double Dragon, Second Class. 

" From Feng-T'ai the railway under British control runs 
directly to the main south gate of the Tartar city (Ch'ien- 
men), but it had been laid down by the soothsayers and 
astrologers aforesaid that, for good augury, and to conform 
with tradition, the Imperial party must descend at Machiapu 
and enter the Chinese city by the direct road to the Palace 
through the Yung-ting Men. At midday, therefore, leaving 
the railway, the Court started in chairs for the city, in the 
midst of a pageant as magnificent as the resources of Chinese 
officialdom permit. The scene has been described by Euro- 
pean writers as imposing, but a Japanese correspondent refers 
to its mise-en-scene as suitable to a rustic theatre in his 
own country. Be this as it may, the Empress Dowager, 
reverently welcomed by the Emperor, who had preceded 
her, as usual, entered the city, from which she had fled so 
ignominiously eighteen months before, at the hour named 
by her spiritual advisers as propitious. Present appearances 
at Peking, as well as the chastened tone of Imperial Edicts, 
indicate that the wise men were right in their choice. 

" It may be added, in conclusion, as a sign of the times, 
that the Empress Dowager's sleeping compartment, prepared 
under the direction of Sheng Hsiian-huai, was furnished with 
a European bed. Per contra, it contained also materials for 
opium smoking, of luxurious yet workmanlike appearance." 

411 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Within a week or so of the Court's return, the representa- 
tives of the foreign Powers were duly received in audience 
under the conditions named in the Peace Protocol. It was 
observed that the Old Buddha assumed, as of old, the highest 
seat on the Throne dais, the Emperor occupying a lower and 
almost insignificant position. At the subsequent reception 
of the Minister's wives, in the Pavilion of Tranquil Longevity, 
the wife of the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps presented 
an address to " welcome Her Imperial Majesty back to her 
beautiful Capital." The document was most cordially, 
almost effusively, worded, and showed that the astute and 
carefully pre-arranged measures taken by the Empress to 
conciliate the foreign Powers by adroit flattery and " allure- 
ments " had already attained their desired effect. Already the 
horrors of the siege, the insults and the arrogance of 1900, 
were forgotten ; already the representatives of the Powers 
were prepared, as of old, to vie with each other in attempts to 
purchase Chinese favour by working each against the other. 

In receiving the address of the ladies of the Diplomatic 
Body, Her Majesty created a marked impression by the 
emotion with which she referred to her affectionate regard 
for Europeans in general and her visitors in particular. With 
every evidence of complete sincerity she explained that a 
" Revolution in the Palace " had compelled her to flee from 
Peking ; she deeply regretted the inconvenience and hard- 
ships to which her good friends of the Foreign Legations had 
been so unfortunately subjected, and she hoped for a renewal 
of the old cordial relations. The foreign ladies left the 
audience highly satisfied with the Empress Dowager for her 
condescension, and with themselves at being placed in a 
position to display such magnanimity. This audience was 
the first of many similar occasions, and reference to the 
numerous works in which the social side of Her Majesty's 
subsequent relations with Europeans have been described 
will show that the Old Buddha had not greatly erred when 
she assured Jung Lu of the value of ancient classical methods 

412 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

in dealing with barbarians, and promised him that all would 
readily be forgiven and forgotten in the tactful exercise of 
condescending courtesies. 

Life settled down then into the old grooves, and all went 
on as before in the Capital of China, the garrisons of the 
Allies soon becoming a familiar feature in the streets to which 
gradually the traders and surviving Chinese residents returned. 
Once more began the farce of foreign intercourse vdth the 
so-called Government of the Celestial Empire, and with it 
were immediately renewed all the intrigues and international 
jealousies which alone enable its rulers to maintain some 
sort of equilibrium in the midst of conflicting pressures. 

The power behind the Throne, from this time until his 
death, was undoubtedly Jung Lu, but the Foreign Legations, 
still confused by memories and echoes of the siege, and 
suspicious of all information which did not conform to their 
expressed ideas of the causes of the Boxer Rising, failed to 
realise the truth, and saw in him a suspect who should by 
rights have suifered punishment with his fellow conspirators. 
But the actual facts of the case, and his individual actions 
as recorded beyond dispute in the diary of His Excellency 
Ching Shan, and unmistakably confirmed by other independ- 
ent vdtnesses, were not then available in the Chancelleries. 
Accordingly, when Jung Lu first paid his formal official calls 
upon the Foreign Ministers, he was anything but gratified 
at the reception accorded to him. In vain it was that he 
assured one member of the Diplomatic body, with whom he 
had formerly been on fairly good terms, that as Heaven was 
his witness he had done nothing in 1900 except his utmost 
to defend and save the Legations ; his statements were 
entirely disbelieved, and so greatly was he chagrined at the 
injustice done him, that he begged the Empress Dowager 
in all seriousness to allow him to retire from the Grand 
Council. But Tzii Hsi, fully realising the situation, assured 
him of her complete confidence, and in a highly laudatory 
decree refused his request : — 

413 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

" The Grand Secretary, Jung Lu," she said, " is a most 
patriotic and loyal servant of the Throne, upon whose ser- 
vices we have long and confidently relied. During the 
whole of the Boxer Rebellion crisis it was he, and he 
alone, who calmly and fearlessly held to the path of firm- 
ness, whilst all around him was confusion and shouting, so 
that without doubt, he was the means of saving the Empire. 
Most glorious indeed is his merit. Although it may be said 
that the situation has now been practically saved, we have 
by no means recovered from the effects of this grievous 
national disaster, and there is urgent necessity for the 
abolition of countless abuses and the introduction of a 
programme of Reform, It is fitting that all should assist us 
to this end. Whilst we ourselves, in the seclusion of the 
Palace, labour unceasingly, how is it possible that the Grand 
Secretary, who has received such high favour at our hands, 
should even think of withdrawing from the stress of public 
life, leaving to us incessant and harassing labour ? Would 
not his conscience drive him to remorse when reflecting on 
the self-denying duties of every loyal Statesman in the 
service of his Sovereign ? His prayer is refused." 

On two subsequent occasions before her death, the populace 
and the foreign community in Pekmg were afforded oppor- 
tunities of witnessing the Empress Dowager's return to the 
city from short excursions by railway, and on each of these 
her affable, almost familiar, attitude was a subject of general 
comment. The first occasion was in the following spring, 
when she visited the Eastern Tombs, and upon her return, 
sacrificing as usual before the shrine of the God of War in 
the enceinte of the Ch'ienmen, she talked volubly with 
several of the ladies whom she had met at Court. After 
emerging from the Temple, she called upon one of the 
eunuchs to bring her opera glasses, with which she eagerly 
scanned the crowd looking down from the wall of the city, 
waving her handkerchief whenever she perceived a familiar 
face. On one occasion she even shouted up an inquiry 
asking after the health of the daughter of one of the Foreign 
Ministers. The Manchu Princes and Chamberlains of the 

414 



THE RETURN OF THE COURT TO PEKING 

Court were unable to conceal their indignation and wrath at 
such condescension on the part of the Empress Dowager 
towards those whom, in spite of 1900, they still regarded 
(and regard to this day) as outer barbarians. So much 
incensed were they that they even urged Chi Lu to beg Her 
Majesty to desist, and to re-enter her chair, an invitation to 
which she paid not the slightest attention, being evidently 
well pleased at the violation of ceremonial etiquette which 
she was committing. It was noticed that the Emperor, on 
the other hand, took no notice whatsoever of the foreigners, 
and seemed to be sunk in a deep, listless melancholy. 

The second occasion was after the Empress Dowager's 
visit to the Western Tombs in April, 1903, four days after 
the death of her faithful friend and adviser, Jung Lu. On 
this occasion Her Majesty appeared to be in very low spirits, 
descending from the train slowly, and with none of her 
wonted vivacity. She greeted Kuei Hsiang, her brother, 
who was kneeling on the platform to receive her, with one 
curt sentence, " You have killed Jung Lu by recommending 
that useless doctor," and passed on to her chair without 
another word. It was on this occasion, receiving certain 
foreign ladies in the travelling Palace erected for her at 
Pao-ting fu, that the Old Buddha alluded directly to the 
massacres of foreign missionaries which had taken place in 
that city, " with which she had, of course, nothing to do.' 
No doubt by this time, and by force of repetition, Tzii Hsi 
had persuaded herself of her complete innocence ; but how- 
ever this may be, she undoubtedly won over most of the 
foreigners with whom she came in contact, by the charm 
and apparent sincerity of her manner. 

Before settling down to the accustomed routine of life in 
the Palace, the Empress Dowager, whose penchant for per- 
sonal explanation in Imperial Edicts seemed to be growing 
upon her, issued a Decree which gained for her renewed 
sympathy from all classes of Chinese officials. After the 
usual exhortations to her faithful subjects to co-operate 

415 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

loyally in her schemes for Reform, to put off the old bad 
ways and to persist energetically in well-doin^, she gi^'cs a 
graphic description of the hardships which she and the 
Emperor endured during her compulsory " tour to the 
West." After referring to the unforgettable shocks and 
sorrows of that journey, the Edict says : — 

" I have now returned once more to my Palace and find 
the ancestral Temples reposing as of old in dignified and 
unbroken serenity. Beneath the deep awe which overcomes 
me in the presence of my glorious ancestors my soul feels an 
added weight of grief and remorse, and I only hope that by 
Heaven's continued favour I may yet live to accomplish 
some meritorious work." 

And again, in a later passage, after referring to the 
drought which had brought Shensi and Shansi to the verge 
of famine, she says :— 

" The Empire has come upon days of dire financial dis- 
tress, and my people have been compelled to find funds for 
me from their very life blood ; ill would it be for me to 
requite their loyalty by further levies of taxation, and the 
Throne is therefore bound to curtail its ordinary expenditure 
and to make strict economy its guiding rule for the future. 
With the exception of such repairs as are necessary to the 
Temples and ancestral shrines, I hereby command that no 
expenditure be incurred for repairs or decoration of the 
Palaces, except in cases of absolute necessity." 



416 



XXIV 
HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

The crisis of 1900, all the horror of that abomination of 
desolation in her Capital and the hardships of her wander- 
ing in the wilderness, had brought home to the Empress 
the inherent weakness of her country and the stern necessity 
for remedial measures. Already, before the issue of the 
penitential Decree, quoted in an earlier chapter, she had 
announced to the world, with characteristic decision, her 
intention to adopt new measures and to break with those 
hoary traditions of the past which, as she had learned, were 
the first cause of the rottenness of the State. Her subse- 
quent policy became in fact (though she was careful never 
to admit it) a justification of those very measures which the 
Emperor had so enthusiastically inaugurated in 1898, but 
her methods differed from his in that she omitted no 
precaution for conciliating the conflicting interests about 
the Throne and for disarming the opposition of the 
intransigeants of the provinces. 

The first intimation of Her Majesty's conversion to new 
ideals of Government was given to the world in an Edict 
issued at Hsi-an on the 28th January, 1901, in the name of 
the Emperor. This document, drafted with the assistance 
of Jung Lu, is a remarkable example of Tzii Hsi's masculine 
intelligence and statecraft, though somewhat marred by 
those long-winded repetitions in which Chinese Edicts 
abound. It was received with enthusiastic delight by the 

417 E E 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

literati throughout the Empire, even in Canton and the 
southern provinces, where, at the moment, Her Majesty was 
not personally popular. The vernacular Press claimed it 
as the most striking Edict in Chinese history. It combined 
an eloquent appeal to the people to accept the principle 
of reform together with a masterful justification of 
China and her people vis-d-vis the outside world. 
It was most skilfully worded so as to placate all parties 
in the State and thus to enhance the reputation of 
the Old Buddha. The "Young China" party was particularly 
enthusiastic, for by this Decree Her Majesty definitely 
abandoned the principle of absolute autocracy which had 
been for centuries the corner-stone of the Chinese system of 
government. It was realised that so complete a departure 
from the traditions of the Manchu Dynasty, of the Imperial 
Clan and of all her previous convictions, could not have been 
attained but for the bitter lessons of 1900, and, admiration 
was therefore the more keen for the skill and courage with 
which, on the verge of old age, she resumed the burden of 
government in her ravaged capital. It was the ruling 
passion bravely asserted, and the sympathy of the nation 
could hardly be withheld from a ruler who thus bore her 
share in the national humiliation, who so frankly accepted 
responsibility for past errors and promised new and better 
methods for the future. 

It was, of course, inevitable, in the light of all experience, 
that many of her subjects, as well as most foreigners, should 
doubt her sincerity, and should regard this Edict, like many 
others, as a case of "when the devil was sick." But gradu- 
ally, after the return of the Court, as it became clear to her 
immediate retainers and high officials that this self-confident 
woman was really in earnest, and as she continued steadily 
to impress her new policy upon the reluctant Clansmen, her 
popularity with the people at large, and especially in the 
south (where it had been much damaged by her fierce 
suppression of the Cantonese reformers of 1898), was gradu- 

418 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

ally restored. From this time forward to the end of her life, 
whatever may have been the good or bad faith of her advisers 
and chief officials, every act of her career is stamped with 
unmistakable signs of her sincerity in the cause of reform, 
borne out by her recorded words and deeds. 

From the Boxer movement she had learned at a bitter 
cost the lesson she was now putting into practice, but for all 
that she remained to the end faithful in her affection for the 
memory of the Boxer leaders ; to the last she never failed 
to praise their loyalty to her person and the patriotic bravery 
of their attempt to expel the foreigner. But she had been 
compelled to learn in the hard school of experience the utter 
hopelessness of that attempt, and she was forced to the con- 
clusion that, for the future, and until China should be strong 
enough, all anti-foreign proceedings must be suppressed. 

Unflinchingly, therefore, she announced to her people a 
change of front unparalleled in the history of China. Certain 
it is (as was fully proved in the case of the Emperor in 
1898) that no other ruler of the Dynasty could have pro- 
claimed such drastic changes without causing serious 
dissensions and possibly civil war. But so masterly were 
her methods of dealing with the necessities of the situation, 
and so forcibly did the style and arguments of her Decrees 
appeal to the literati, that they carried very general con- 
viction. Even the most bigoted Confucianists were won by 
her subtle suggestions as to what would have been the 
attitude of the Sage himself if confronted by such problems 
as the nation had now to face. 

The text of the Decree recording her conversion is 
interesting : — 

" Throughout the entire universe there exist certain fixed 
principles which govern the conduct of men, but nowhere do 
we find any finally fixed form of government. It is written 
in the Book of Changes ^ that when any given condition of 

1 Precisely the same quotation was used by Ch'ung Hou in a despatch to 

419 E E 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

affairs has run its natural course, and has been succeeded by 
another, there is no saying how long this new state may last ; 
also in the Dialogues of Confucius it is written, that there is 
no difficulty in tracing the changes and reforms which each 
Dynasty has made in regard to the methods of its pre- 
decessors. Certain things remain ever unchanged, namely, 
the three fundamental bonds, between Sovereign and 
subject, father and son, husband and wife ; also the five 
great moral obligations. These vary not, but are all as the 
sun and moon, enlightening the world. But in other matters 
there should be no fixed objection to change, no hide-bound 
finality of ideas ; to obtain music from a lute or guitar one 
must touch all the strings. Each Dynasty in turn, since the 
beginning of time, has seen fit to introduce changes and has 
abolished certain customs of its predecessors ; our own 
ancestors have set us many an example in modifying their 
conduct to meet the exigencies of their day. The system 
which prevailed at the date when first the Manchus captured 
Peking was very different from that in vogue when ]\ioukden 
was the capital of our Empire. 

" Looking at the matter broadly, we may observe that 
any system which has lasted too long is in danger of 
becoming stereotyped, and things that are obsolete should 
be modified. The essential need which confronts us is at all 
costs to strengthen our Empire and to improve the condition 
of our subjects. Ever since our journey to the West the 
Empress Dowager has been over-burdened with the labours 
and cares of the State.^ 

" Bitterly have we reproached ourselves with the thought 
that for the past twenty years abuses have steadily been 
increasing, while means of suppressing them have been con- 
tinually put off until, at last, the state of our country has 
become parlous indeed. At this moment, when peace 
negotiations are proceeding, it is a matter of urgent necessity 
that steps be taken to reorganise our system of government 

the British Minister (Mr. Wade) in 1861^ under somewhat similar circum- 
stances. Since that date the most frequent criticism of foreign observers on 
the subject has been "plus qa change, plus c'est la meme chose." 

1 The Hteral translation of the Chinese is^ " She has eaten her meal at 
sunset, and worn her clothes throughout the night." 

420 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

so that hereafter our Celestial Empire may recover its 
ancient place of wealth and power. The Empress Dowager 
has now decided that we should correct our shortcomings by 
adopting the best methods and systems which obtain in 
foreign countries, basing our future conduct upon a wise 
recognition of past errors. 

" Ever since the 23rd and 24th years of Kuang Hsii (1897 
and 1898) there has been no lack of plans for reform, 
and suggestions of administrative change, but they have 
all been marked by vagueness and foolish looseness of 
thought. The crisis which was brought about in 1898 
by the arch-traitor K'ang Yu-wei was in its possible conse- 
quences even more dangerous than the evil which has since 
been brought about by the unholy arts of the Boxers. To 
this day K'ang and his associates continue to preach treason 
and to disturb the public mind by means of their writings 
from overseas. The object of their writings is simply 
anarchy, nor do they scruple to use catchwords which, 
while apparently appealing to the patriotism of our 
people, are really intended to create dissension. Thus they 
talk of the " defence of the Empire " and the " protection of 
the Chinese race," and many of their dupes fail to realise 
that their main object is not reform, but a revolution 
against the Manchu Dynasty, and that they hope to create 
ill-feeling between the Empress Dowager and the Emperor. 
With treacherous cunning those conspirators took advantage 
of 'Our weak state of health, and we were therefore glad 
when at our urgent request Her Majesty the Empress 
Dowager resumed the Regency. With amazing rapidity 
she grasped all the needs of the situation and delivered 
us from imminent peril, visiting swift punishment upon 
those traitors. But, whilst ridding the State of these evil- 
doers it was never Her Majesty's wish or intention to block 
reform measures, whilst we, on our side, though recognising 
the necessity for change in certain directions, were never 
guilty of any desire to abolish all the ancient ways of our 
ancestors. Our loyal subjects must recognise that it has been 
Her Majesty's invariable wish, and our own, to follow the 
happy mean, we, as mother and son, being in complete accord, 
to steer a wise middle course between conflicting policies. 

421 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

"We have to-day received Her Majesty's orders, and learn 
that she is now thoroughly bent on radical reform. Never- 
theless, whilst we are convinced of the necessity of blending 
in one harmonious form of administration the best customs 
and traditions of Chinese and European Governments, there 
is to be no talk of reaction or revolution. The chief defect 
in our system of administration is undoubtedly too close an 
adherence to obsolete methods, a too slavish devotion to the 
written word ; the result is a surfeit of commonplace and 
inefficient officials, and a deplorable lack of men of real 
talent. The average commonplace man makes a god of the 
written word, whilst every bureaucrat in the land regards 
it as a talisman wherewith to fill his purse, so that we have 
huge mountains of correspondence eternally growing up 
between one government office and another, the value of 
which is absolutely nil so far as any good to the country 
is concerned. On the other hand men of real ability lose 
heart and give up the public service in disgust, prevented 
from coming to the front by the mass of inefficiency that 
blocks the way. Our whole system of government has 
come to grief through corruption, and the first steps of 
progress in our Empire are clogged by the fatal word 
' Precedent.' 

" Up to the present the study of European methods has 
gone no further than a superficial knowledge of the languages, 
literature and mechanical arts of the West, but it must 
be evident that these things are not the essentials upon 
which European civilisation has been founded. The essential 
spirit of that civilisation is to be looked for in the fact that 
real sympathy and understanding exists between rulers 
and people, that officials are required to be truthful in word 
and courageous in action. The teachings handed down 
to us by our sacred ancestors are really the same as those 
upon which the wealth and power of European countries 
have been based, but China has hitherto failed to realise this 
and has been content to acquire the rudiments of European 
languages or technicalities, while changing nothing of her 
ancient habits of inefficiency and deep-rooted corruption. 
Ignoring our real needs we have so far taken from Europe 
nothing but externals ; how can we possibly hope to advance 

422 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

on such lines ? Any reforms to be effective and permanent 
must be made with a real desire for efficiency and honesty. 

" We therefore hereby decree and command that the 
officials concerned shall now make close enquiry and 
comparison as to the various systems of government in force 
in European countries with special reference to those which 
obtain in China to-day, not only as regards the constitution 
of the Court and central government, but also concerning 
those things which make for the prosperity of our subjects, 
such as the system of examinations and education, the 
administration of the army and the regulation of finance. 
They will be required to report as to what changes are 
advisable and what institutions should be abolished ; what 
methods we should adopt from abroad and what existing 
Chinese institutions should be retained. The things we 
chiefly need are a constant supply of men of talent, a sound 
basis of national finance, and an efficient army. Reports 
on these matters must be forwarded within two months, 
and upon them we shall humbly address Her Majesty, 
and ask for her decision before we take any definite 
action. 

"Whilst the Court was in residence at T'ai-yiian we 
urgently called upon our subjects to assist us, and many 
Memorials were received, but as a general rule the advice 
they tendered was either stupid plagiarism taken from 
newspaper articles or else the narrow and bigoted views 
of untravelled scholars. They frequently sounded quite 
reasonable, but were in reality sheer nonsense, their principal 
characteristic being overweening conceit, which effectively 
prevented any breadth of argument. Very few of the 
suggestions advanced were practicable, for the reason that 
in recommending any course of action writers laid stress 
upon its alleged advantages without realising its drawbacks. 
There are many who talk glibly of reform and the wealth 
and power of foreign States, but deceive themselves as to 
the real origin of all knowledge ; on the other hand your 
bigoted Confucianist will discourse endlessly upon the 
doctrines of the Sages, without in the least realising the 
needs of the present day. It is now for you, our officials, 
to steer a reasonable midway course, avoiding both these 

423 






CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

defects in submitting your proposals. We desire that 
your views shall be elaborated in the fullest detail for our 
consideration in determining upon a course of action. 

" The first essential, however, more important even than 
the devising of new systems, is to secure men of administra- 
tive abihty. Without talent no system can be made to 
succeed. If the letter of our projected reforms be not 
illuminated and guided by this spirit of efficiency in our 
officials then must all our hopes of reforming the State 
disappear into the limbo of lost ideals. We fully recognise 
that foolish adherence to the system of promotion by 
seniority has been one of the main factors in bringing 
about a condition of affairs that is almost incurable. If we 
would now be rid of it, our first step evidently is to think 
no more of selfish mterests, but to consider the common- 
wealth only and to secure efficiency by some new and 
definite method, so that competent persons only may be 
in charge of public affairs. But if you, our officials, 
continue to cling to your ancient ways, following the ruts 
of procrastination and slothful ease ; should you persist in 
evading responsibility, serving the State with empty catch- 
words while you batten on the fruits of your misdeeds, 
assuredly the punishment which the law provides stands 
ready, and no mercy will be shown you ! Let this Decree 
be promulgated throughout the land." 

It will be observed that in this Decree the Emperor is 
made to renounce and condemn the Reformers of 1898 and 
all their works. This, however sincerely convinced Her 
Majesty might be of the necessity for remedial measures, 
was only natural. For it was never one of the weaknesses 
of this masterful woman to make direct confession of error 
for the benefit of her own immediate entourage ; not thus 
is prestige maintained in the atmosphere of an Oriental 
Court. She was now prepared to adopt many of the reforms 
which K'ang Yu-wei and his friends had advocated, but for 
all-important purposes of " face " it must be made quite clear 
that, in her hands, they were something radically different 
and superior. In promulgating her new opinions she could 

424 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

not afford to say anything which might be construed as direct 
justification of that reform movement which she herself had 
so ruthlessly suppressed. And so the " stupid people " must 
clearly understand that her present programme was by no 
means "revolutionary" like that of K'ang Yu-wei and his 
fellow-" conspirators. " Nevertheless, her proposals for reform 
w^ent as far as theirs, and, in some cases, even further, the only 
real difference being that in this case she, the Old Buddha, 
was a prime mover, where before she had been an opponent. 

Looking back on the six years of her life and rule which 
followed the return from exile, there can be but little doubt 
of the sincerity of her conversion to reform, although there 
is no reason to believe that her sentiments towards foreigners 
had undergone any change for the better. The lesson which 
had been brought home to her with crushing force in the 
rise and fall of the Boxer movement and in the capture of 
Peking, was that national inefficiency means national extinc- 
tion, a lesson which not all the statesmen of western lands 
have fully learned. She had realised that the material forces 
of the western world were not to be met and overthrown by 
quotations from the classics, and that, if China was to 
continue to exist as an independent State she must follow 
the example of Japan and put her house in order with 
equipment and defences adapted from western models. 
And with Tzu Hsi to realise was to act, a quality which, 
more than all others, distinguished her from the ruck of her 
Manchu kinsmen and officials, sunk in their lethargic 
fatalism and helplessness. 

The situation which confronted her at the outset was 
anything but simple. Apart from the time-honoured 
privileges of the Imperial clans, whose arrogant ignorance 
she had come to appreciate at its proper value, she must 
needs be cautious in handling the susceptibilities of the 
provincial gentry and literati, the backbone of China's collec- 
tive intelligence. At the same time, as far as the foreign 
Powers were concerned, she must be careful to preserve to 

425 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

the full that dignity on which her prestige with her own people 
depended, that " V empire cest moi " attitude which had been 
rudely shaken by the events of 1900. Not as the chastened 
penitent would she appear in their eyes, but as the innocent 
and injured victim of circumstances beyond her control. 
There were, in fact, several distinct roles to be played, and 
none of them were easy. 

The Edict issued from Hsi-an in February 1901 had been 
warmly applauded by scholars throughout the Empire as a 
literary feat of the first order, but most of the provincial 
officials (justified by all tradition and experience) regarded it 
as merely a classical " obiter dictum," and proceeded, there- 
fore, in their old way, certain in their minds that the Old 
Buddha was only amusing herself, as was her wont, by 
throwing dust in the eyes of the barbarian, and that she 
would not be displeased if her lieutenants were to proceed 
slowly in carrying them into effect. Unto the end, even in 
the face of the earnest exhortations of her valedictory Decree, 
there were many provincial officials who, for reasons of 
personal prejudice and self-interest, professed to beUeve that 
the Old Buddha had been merely playing a part, but we can 
find nothing in her official or private record during these six 
years to justify that belief. Just before her return to Peking 
she issued an Edict in which her own convictions were very 
clearly indicated : — 

" Ever since my sudden departure from the capital a year 
ago," she declared, " I have not ceased for a moment to brood 
over the causes of our national misfortunes and to feel deep 
remorse. Now, thanks to the protection of our tutelary 
deities, I am about to return to the capital. Whenever I 
think of the reasons for our undoing and the causes of our 
collective weakness I sincerely deplore the fact that I have 
not long ago introduced the necessary reforms, but I am 
now fully determined to put in force all possible measures 
for the reform of the State. Abandoning our former 
prejudices, we must proceed to adopt the best European 
methods of government. I am firmly determined to work 

426 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

henceforward on practical lines, so as to deliver the Empire 
from its present rotten state. Some of the necessary 
measures will naturally require longer periods of preparation 
than others, but after my return to Peking they must one 
and all gradually be introduced. 

" In view of the urgent importance of this matter, Jung 
Lu and his colleagues have urged me to make a clear state- 
ment of my intentions and to declare without possibility of 
hesitation or doubt the irrevocable decision of the Throne, so 
that every official in the land may be stimulated to sincere and 
unremitting co-operation. For this reason I issue the present 
Decree solemnly recording my opinion that the condition of 
the Empire permits of no further evasion or delay in the 
matter of reform. Therein lies our only hope for the future. 
Myself and the Emperor, in the interests of all that we hold 
dear, have no alternative but to face, and steadily to pursue, 
this new policy ; we must make up our minds what are the 
things to strive for, and employ the right men to help us to 
attain them. We are, as mother and son, of one mind, 
endeavouring only to restore our fallen fortunes. You, our 
people, can best serve by united efforts to this end." 

Tzu Hsi had not only realised the immense superiority of 
the material forces of the western world, but she had also 
been convinced of the immense intellectual and political 
forces which education and increased means of communica- 
tion were steadily creating amongst her own subjects, forces 
with which, as she perceived, the effete and ignorant Manchus 
would have to reckon sooner or later. It is quite plain from 
her Edicts on this delicate subject that she realised clearly 
the dangers which threatened the Manchu rule. She saw 
that their class privileges, the right to tribute, and all the 
other benefits of sovereignty which the founders of the 
Dynasty had won by force of arms and opportunity, had now 
become an anachronism, and must in the near future involve 
the Manchus themselves in serious dangers and difficulties, 
unless, by fusion, means could be found to avert them. 
Among the rules laid down by the founders of the Dynasty 

427 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

for the maintenance of the pure Manchu stock, was that 
which forbade intermarriage with Chinese. This law, though 
frequently violated in the garrisons of the south, had 
remained generally effective within the Metropolitan province, 
where it had served its purpose of maintaining the ruling 
class and its caste. But the Empress had now come to 
understand that if China was to be preserved as a sovereign 
State, it must be rather by means of Chinese energy and 
intelligence grafted on to the Manchu stock, than by the 
latter 's separate initiative. In January 1902, immediately 
after her return to Peking, she gave effect to her convictions 
on this subject in a remarkable Decree whereby she recom- 
mended that, for the future, Manchus and Chinese should 
intermarry. " At the time of the founding of our Dynasty," 
she says, " the customs and languages of the two races were 
greatly different, and this was in itself reason sufficient for 
prohibiting intermarriage. But at the present day, little or 
no difference exists between them, and the time has come, 
therefore, to relax this law for the benefit of the Empire as 
a whole, and in accordance with the wishes of our people." 
In the same Edict Her Majesty deprecated the Chinese 
custom, which the Manchus had never adopted, of foot- 
binding, and urged that the educated classes should unite to 
oppose a custom so injurious to health and inhuman in 
practice. There was, however, to be no compulsion in this 
matter. In one respect only did she desire to adhere to the 
exclusive Manchu traditions, namely, as regards the selection 
of secondary wives for the Imperial harem, who must con- 
tinue to be chosen exclusively from Manchu families ; she 
did not desire " to incur any risk of confusion or dissension 
in the Palace, nor to fall into the error committed by the 
Ming Dynasty, in the indiscriminate selection of concubines, 
a matter affecting the direct and legitimate succession to the 
Throne." Nor would she expose her kinsmen to the risk of 
conspiracy against the Dynasty which would certainly occur 
if the daughters of the great Chinese houses were admitted 

428 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

to the Palace. The law had been laid down once and for 
all by Nurhachu, and it was binding on every occupant of 
the Dragon Throne, namely, *' no Manchu eunuchs, no 
Chinese concubines." 

Her next step, in a decree which frankly deplored the 
hopeless ignorance of her kinsmen, was to authorise the 
Imperial clansmen and nobles to send their sons to be 
educated abroad, so that perchance the lump of their ineffici- 
ency might yet be leavened. Ehgible youths, between the 
ages of fifteen and twenty-five, and of good physique, were 
to be selected and their expenses would be defrayed by the 
Government. 

This much for the IManchus ; but in regard to the whole 
question of education, which she declared to be the very 
root of all China's difficulties, she perceived, after pro- 
longed consultations with Yiian Shih-k'ai and Chang Chih- 
tung, that so long as the classical system continued, with its 
strong hold of tradition upon the masses, it must constitute 
the chief obstacle to any effective reform of the body politic. 
After much careful deliberation she decided that unless the 
whole system of classical examinations were abolished, root 
and branch, no tinkering with western learning could be of 
any practical use. The ancient system of arguing in a circle, 
which for over two centuries had characterised the ideal 
essay and hypnotised the ideal official, must undoubtedly 
triumph over all other educational methods, so long as it 
remained part of the official curriculum. Her Majesty took 
pains to point out by Edict that colleges had undoubtedly 
existed in the days of that model ruler, the Regent Duke 
Chou, more than two thousand five hundred years ago, 
on lines not greatly different from those of the foreign 
Universities of the present day ; she proved also that the 
classical essay system was, so to speak, quite a recent inno- 
vation, having been introduced for the first time under the 
Ming Dynasty, about a.d. 1390. Eventually, in 1904, upon 
the advice of Yiian Shih-k'ai, approved by Chang Chih-tung, 

429 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

a Decree was issued finally abolishing the old system of 
examinations and making graduation at one of the modern 
colleges the only recognised path to official employment. 
At the same time, realising that the training of students 
in Japan, which had been proceeding on a very large scale, 
had produced a body of revolutionary scholars most 
undesirable in the eyes of the Government, she gave orders 
that arrangements should be made for sending more students 
in future to Europe and America. 

This epoch-making announcement was followed by several 
other important Decrees, notably that which ordered the 
complete abolition of the opium traffic within a period of 
ten years, a Decree, which, embodying a sincere and powerful 
consensus of public opinion, has produced most unexpected 
results, marvellously creditable to the moral sense and 
recuperative energies of the Chinese race. The contrast is 
most striking between the widespread reform effiscted under 
this Edict, and the almost complete failure of those which 
set forth to reform the Metropolitan administration ; these, 
thanks to the steady passive resistance of the mandarin in 
possession, resulted merely in perpetuating the old abuses 
under new names. The one new Ministry created at that 
time, and saluted by foreigners as a sign of genuine progress, 
was that of Posts and Communications (Yu-Ch'uan pu), 
which has been a byword for corrupt practices since its 
establishment, and a laughing stock among the Chinese 
themselves for inefficiency and extravagance. 

After dealing with education, the Old Buddha turned her 
attention to a question which had frequently figured in 
recent Memorials of progressive officials, namely, the 
abolition of torture and other abuses prevalent in the so- 
called judicial system of the Empire. She realised that if 
China were ever to obtain the consent of the western 
Powers to the abolition of the foreigner's rights of extra- 
territoriality, she must devise and enforce civil and criminal 
codes similar to those of civilised countries. Her Edict on 

430 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

this subject, though in form excellent, seems to lack some- 
thing of the conviction which marks her other Decrees of this 
period ; it is very different, for instance, from those dealing 
with the abolition of opium and the reform of education. 
Its principles were obviously contrary to all her previous 
ideas and practice, and it is only fair to say that its result, in 
spite of much drafting of codes, has been little or none, as 
far as the barbarous practices of the provincial Yamens are 
concerned. She decreed that, pending the introduction of 
the criminal code, decapitation should be the extreme 
penalty of the law ; dismemberment and mutilation were 
to be abolished as barbarous ; branding, flogging, and the 
vicarious punishment of relatives were to cease. These 
savage penalties, she observed, were originally introduced 
into China under the Ming Dynasty, and had only been 
adopted by the Manchus, with other Chinese customs, against 
their own more merciful instincts. 

Finally, in deference to the unmistakable and growing 
tendencies of public opinion in the south, Tzu. Hsi took the 
first steps towards the introduction of constitutional govern- 
ment by sending an Imperial Commission (under Duke Tsai 
Tse) to study the various systems in force in foreign countries, 
and their results. The return of this Mission was followed 
in the autumn of 1905 by the issue of the famous Decree 
in which she definitely announced her intention to grant a 
constitution, which should come into effect sooner or later, 
according to circumstances and the amount of energy or 
procrastination displayed by the officials and people in pre- 
paring themselves for the change. As an example of subtle 
argument calculated to appeal to the Chinese mind, the 
document is a masterpiece in its way. It says : — 

"Ever since the foundation of the Dynasty one wise 
sovereign after another has handed down sage counsels to 
posterity ; it has always been their guiding principle that 
methods of Government should be modified and adapted to 
meet the exigencies of the moment and changing conditions. 

431 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

China's great and increasing danger to-day is largely due to 
her unwise adherence to antiquated methods ; if we do not 
amend our educational and political systems, we shall be 
violating the spirit which animated our Imperial ancestors, 
and shall disappoint the best hopes of our people. Our 
Imperial Commissioners have reported to us that the pros- 
perity and power of foreign nations are largely due to prin- 
ciples of constitutional government based on the will of the 
people, which assures bonds of union and sympathy between 
the Sovereign and his subjects. It is therefore our duty to 
consider by what means such a Constitution may be granted 
as shall retain the sovereign power in the hands of the Throne, 
and at the same time give effect to the wishes of the people 
in matters of administration. Our State being at present 
unprepared, and our people uneducated, any undue haste is 
inadvisable, and would lead to no practical results. We 
must first reform the official system, following this by the 
introduction of new laws, new methods of education, finance 
and military organisations, together with a police system, so 
that officials and people may come to realise what executive 
government means as a foundation and preparation for the 
granting of a Constitution." 

It was not to be expected that even Tzu Hsi could frame 
so radical and comprehensive a programme of change without 
incurring the strongest opposition and criticism of those to 
whom the established order meant loaves and fishes : at 
Peking, however, owing to the absence of an outspoken 
press, the opposition ran beneath the surface, exercised in 
the time-honoured form of dogged adherence to the ancient 
methods by the officials and bureaucrats on whose goodwill all 
reform ultimately depends. Against anyone less masterful and 
less popular than Tzii Hsi the Clansmen would undoubtedly 
have concerted other and more forcible measures, but they 
knew their Old Buddha and went in wholesome fear of her 
wrath. It was only her exceptional position and authority 
that enabled her to introduce the machinery for the 
establishment of constitutional government, based on the 
Japanese model, and there is reason to believe that even at 

432 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

this moment many conservative Manchus do not regard that 
measure seriously. 

But despite the promise of constitutional government, 
public opinion in the south, never restrained in its utter- 
ances by the free-lances of the vernacular press of Hong- 
kong and Shanghai, was outspoken in condemnation of Her 
Majesty's new policy, criticising her policy in general on 
the ground of her undignified truckling to Europeans. 
Lacking alike her masculine intelligence and courageous 
recognition of hard facts, making no allowance for the 
difficulties with which she was encompassed, and animated 
in many instances by a very real hatred of the Manchu rule, 
they attacked her in unmeasured terms of abuse ; while the 
foreign press of the Treaty Ports, naturally suspicious of her 
motives and mindful of her share in the anti-foreign rising, 
was also generally unsympathetic, if not hostile. In both 
cases knowledge of the woman's virility and vitality was 
lacking. Her critics failed to realise that, like most mortals, 
the Empress was a mixture of good and bad, of wisdom and 
error, largely swayed by circumstances and the human 
equations around her, as well as by an essentially feminine 
quality of mutability ; but withal, and above all, a born 
leader of men and a politician of the very first order. 

The following extracts from articles published in the 
Shanghai press at that time, throw an instructive light on 
the spirit of Young China (like that of the Babu of India) 
as displayed in its anti-Manchu proclivities and bigoted 
chauvinism. One critic, taking for his text the entertain- 
ments given by Her Majesty to the Foreign Legations, 
wrote : — 

" There can be no objection to giving a banquet to anyone 
who is likely to be grateful and show some return for hos- 
pitality, but what possible good purpose can be served by 
feasting those who treat you with suspicion ? We Chinese 
are wont to despise our ignorant rustics when they display 
servility to foreigners, but what is to be said when one in the 

433 F F 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

exalted position of the Empress Dowager demeans herself by 
being on terms of affectionate intimacy with the wives of 
Foreign Ministers, and even with women belonging to the 
commercial and lower classes ? Nowadays foreign food is 
served at the Palace in a dining-room decked out in 
European style : the guests at these entertainments thank 
their Imperial hostess on taking leave, and the very next day 
their Legations will furiously rage against China at our 
Foreign Office. Therefore, as for moderating their barbarous 
ways, her food and her wines are simply wasted. As a matter 
of fact, these guests of hers do not scruple to compare her 
banquets of to-day with the melons and vegetables which she 
sent to the Legations during the siege, a comparison by no 
means flattering to Her Majesty. The thing is becoming a 
scandal. When Russia poured out entertainments in honour 
of Li Hung-chang she got something for her money ; can it 
be that Her Majesty is looking to similar results in the 
present case for herself ? " 

Another critic, nearer the truth as we know, doubted 
whether the Empress Dowager was in reality enamoured of 
foreign ways, and whether she was not simulating good 
relations, while preparing some deep-laid scheme of future 
revenge. 

" It is scarcely credible," he observed, " that, at her 
time of life, she should be able to change all her habits and 
form ties so completely alien to her education and nature. 
Would not the foreigners naturally ask themselves whether 
she was likely to cherish any real affection for people who had 
plundered her palace and had forced her to hand over to the 
executioners her most faithful and trusted officials ? " 

This writer had difficulty, however, in believing that she 
contemplated another Boxer movement and frankly con- 
fessed himself perplexed. 

" As Her Majesty's chief occupation at the present time 
would appear to be to accumulate money at all costs rather 
than to reorganise and strengthen the resources of the 

434 



HER MAJESTY'S NEW POLICY 

Empire, her ultimate object may well be to secure that 
whatever happens, her old age shall be comfortably provided 
for." 

Nevertheless, unheeding of criticism and strong in the 
wisdom of her own convictions, Tzii Hsi continued steadily 
on the lines which she had laid down as necessary for the 
future safety of the Empire. It was not to be expected that 
even her strong personality could overcome in a day the 
entrenched forces of native prejudice and conservatism 
within and without the palace. At the time of her death 
many of the chief strongholds of the ancient system {e.g., 
the power of the eunuchs and the organised corruption of 
officials) remained practically uncriticised and untouched ; 
but at her passing she had marked out a rough course by 
which, if faithfully followed, the ship of State might yet be 
safely steered through the rocks and shallows of the dangerous 
seas ahead. 



435 F F 2 



XXV 

THE VALEDICTORY MEMORIAL OF JUNG LU 

The death of Jung Lu was a great grief to the Empress 
Dowager. In the course of her long Ufe there was hardly 
any crisis or important event of her reign wherein she had 
not been greatly assisted by this devoted follower. Upon 
hearing of his death she issued a Decree from the Travel- 
ling Palace at Pao-ting-fu, praising the patriotism and 
clear-sighted intelligence of the deceased, who, since the 
beginning of his career as an honorary licentiate had risen 
to be Controller of the Imperial Household, Tartar General 
and Viceroy, in all of which capacities he had rendered 
signal service. At the time of his death he had attained to 
the highest honours open to a subject in China, namely, the 
position of Grand Secretary and Grand Councillor. In this 
Decree Her Majesty laid particular stress on his endeavours 
to promote a good understanding with the foreign Powers 
in 1900. Further, in token of her affectionate regard, she 
bestowed upon him a- coverlet with charms worked thereon 
from the Dharani Sutra in Sanscrit and Thibetan, to be used 
as a pall for his burial, and she commanded Prince Kung to 
proceed to the residence of the deceased, with ten officers of 
the Imperial Guard, to perform a sacrifice on her behalf to 
the soul of the departed statesman. She granted him the 
posthumous designation of "learned and loyal," together 
with the highest hereditary rank open to one who had not 

436 



VALEDICTORY MEMORIAL OF JUNG LU 

been a victorious military commander or a member of the 
Imperial Clan. His ancestral tablet was given a place at the 
Shrine of Good and Virtuous Officials, and three thousand 
taels (£350) were issued from the privy purse towards his 
funeral expenses. 

Jung Lu's valedictory Memorial has never been published 
in China, but those in attendance on Her Majesty reported 
that it affected her very deeply. On the day after it reached 
her, she issued the following Decree : — 

" The deceased Grand Secretary, Jung Lu, was our senior 
Grand Councillor at a time of critical danger to the State, 
and his sage counsel and eminent services to the Throne 
have never been sufficiently appreciated either in China or 
abroad. He was absolutely indispensable to us, and we 
depended entirely upon his advice. Two months ago, owing 
to his ill-health, we were compelled to grant him leave of 
absence, but, unfortunately, all remedies have proved un- 
availing, and he has passed away. We have perused his 
valedictory Memorial, full of a deep and touching earnest- 
ness in regard to the future of our Empire and the condition 
of the Chinese people ; and in recalling all the incidents of 
his distinguished career the violence of our grief can only 
find expression in tears. Following upon the posthumous 
honours already conferred upon him, we hereby decree that a 
second Imperial sacrifice shall be offered to his spirit on the 
day before his remains are removed for burial, and, further- 
more, that the record of his life be transmitted to the 
Historiographers' Department for inclusion in the annals of 
our Dynasty. All faults that may have been recorded 
against him shall be expunged, so that the depth of our 
sincere affection for this faithful servant may be made 
manifest." 

Jung Lu was sixty-seven years of age at the date of his 
death (April 11th, 1903), and it is probable that had it not 
been for the severe hardships and mental strain which he 
endured during the Boxer crisis, he would have lived much 
longer to serve his Imperial mistress. By his death Prince 

437 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

Ch'ing and his corrupt following rose to increased power 
(Prince Ch'ing being the only available Manchu of rank 
sufficient to succeed Jung Lu as head of the Grand Council), 
and they have retained it, in the subterranean labyrinths of 
Palace intrigues, ever since. 

Jung Lu was essentially a middle-course man, striving 
earnestly for that " happy mean " which the Empress 
Dowager professed to desire. Had he lived, it is safe to say 
that he would not have approved of the haste with which 
she proceeded to sanction the undigested programme for 
constitutional government, and with his advice against it the 
Old Buddha would probably not have persisted in the idea. 
He had repeatedly urged her, before the return of the Court, 
to make it quite clear in her Edicts that a reform policy was 
necessary for the preservation of the Empire, but, like the 
late Prince Ito, he was all for a slow and cautious procedure, 
and present-day observers of events connected with the 
constitutional government programme can hardly doubt the 
wisdom of his advice. 

The following is a translation of his, hitherto unpublished, 
valedictory Memorial, a document which throws valuable 
Hght on the coup d'etat and the relations between Tzu Hsi 
and the Emperor at that time. In other respects it confirms 
many conclusions wherein Jung Lu's authoritative testimony 
was lacking to complete an otherwise satisfactory chain of 
evidence. 

" I, your slave, Jung Lu, a Grand Councillor and Grand 
Secretary of the Wen Hua Throne Hall, having grievously 
failed to requite the favours of your Majesties, now that my 
breath is almost spent, respectfully upon my knees do present 
this my valedictory Memorial, and beg that your Majesties 
may be pleased to cast your divine glance upon it. 

"I, all unworthy, have received no small bounty at the 
hands of your Majesty the Empress Dowager, and had 
hoped that Heaven might grant me length of days, wherein 
to display my utmost endeavour in your Majesty's service. 

438 



VALEDICTORY MEMORIAL OF JUNG LU 

Respectfully I recall the fact that I began my career of 
service as an Imperial guardsman, and was on duty with 
H.M. Hsien-Feng in his excursion to the hunting park at 
Mulan (Jehol) in the tenth year of his reign. At that time 
the situation of the Empire was one of great danger ; 
within there was the grave peril of the rebellion, while from 
without the English and French barbarians had captured 
our sacred capital. We witnessed the violation of the 
Imperial shrines and saw the sacred chariot of His Majesty 
leave Peking, in accordance with the principle laid down by 
Mencius that a sovereign should leave his capital when it is 
threatened by invasion of barbarians. 

" After the Court's arrival at Jehol, I had the honour of 
attending on your Majesty the Empress Dowager as 
Chamberlain, and when His Majesty Hsien-Feng lay on his 
deathbed, I had the honour to warn your Majesty and the 
Empress Consort that the Princes Cheng and Yi were 
conspiring against the State. After the death of His 
Majesty, those wicked Princes usurped the Regency and for 
many days your Majesty was in danger so great that it may 
not be spoken of by any loyal subject. Happily, your 
Majesty, acting on your own firm initiative and by the 
favour of Heaven, dealt with those abominable traitors in 
the twinkling of an eye and rescued the State from its dire 
peril. For years thereafter you carried on the Regency, 
rebellions were suppressed and peace reigned within the four 
seas. 

" Your slave received many marks of the Imperial favour 
and rose to be Minister of the Household ; I was thus 
constantly in attendance on your Majesty. When the 
late Emperor T'ung-Chih mounted the dragon and 
ascended on high, it was to me that your Majesty confided 
the duty of bringing the present Emperor Kuang-Hsli to 
the Palace. Favours vast as the universe have I received, 
and for these I have made no return. 

" While acting as Captain General of the Peking 
Gendarmerie, I incurred your Majesty's displeasure ; there- 
after for seven years I awaited, without incurring, the fitting 
penalty for my offence. Later, when His Majesty came to 
his majority and you were pleased to hand over to him the 

439 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

reins of government, you conferred on me the post of 
Tartar General at Hsi-an. Subsequently I was recalled to 
my former position at the capital. In the 24th year of 
Kuang-Hsii (1898) your Majesties determined on the 
introduction of European methods of government and 
the Emperor summoned me to audience and conferred on 
me the post of Viceroy of Chihli at Tientsin where I was 
ordered to select and introduce reforms based on foreign 
methods in order to remedy the weakness of China's 
administration. But who could then have believed that the 
damnable treasons of K'ang Yu-wei should be the means of 
thwarting your Majesties' great plans ? His Majesty the 
Emperor, by giving ear to the lying inventions of that 
traitor and his associates, if only for a little while, 
undoubtedly allowed his filial piety to suffer temporary 
decline. This was particularly the case when he wrote with 
his own Imperial hand a Decree stating that his reform 
proposals were being blocked by your Majesty and that, as 
you were opposed to the spirit of progress, your interference 
in State affairs was a danger to the nation. Towards me 
also His Majesty displayed his divine wrath, so that once 
more had your slave deserved the penalty of 'axes and 
halberds.' But when I sought your Majesty in secret 
audience and laid before you the details of the plot, once 
more did your Majesty, without a moment's hesitation 
respond to our prayer and resume the control of affairs, 
swiftly visiting upon evildoers of that treacherous crew the 
might of your august displeasure. 

" In the 26th year of Kuang-Hsii, certain Princes 
and Ministers, statesmen deficient in virtue, gained your 
Majesty's ear, and even your divine wisdom was misled to 
believe in the unholy arts and magic of the Boxers until 
the ancestral shrines were the centre of cataclysmic disaster 
and the destinies of the Empire trembled in the balance. 
Again and again I besought your Majesty to put an end to 
these traitors, but could not gain your consent. I incurred 
at that time your censure on more than one occasion, and 
for forty days waited in my house fully expectant of doom. 
But even so your Majesty repeatedly sought my advice, and 
though it was not always followed, I was able to avert the 

440 



VALEDICTORY MEMORIAL OF JUNG LU 

crowning misfortune which would have resulted from the 
killing of the foreign Ministers. For this service your 
Majesty has since deigned frequently to express gratitude. 

" When your Majesties left the city on your tour of 
inspection to Hsi-an, you decided upon punishing those evil- 
minded Princes and Ministers, and thereafter to introduce a 
policy of gradual and effective reform in every branch of the 
administration. Already, during the past two years, con- 
siderable progress has been made. By your return to the 
capital the sun has been restored to our firmament, and 
even the barbarians of the east and west have acclaimed 
your Majesty's benevolence and impartial solicitude for all, 
Chinese and foreigners alike. 

" For the past year I have been continually ill, but until 
two months ago was able to continue in the performance of 
my arduous duties. Since then I have been compelled to 
apply for sick-leave and have sought permission to resign my 
offices, but your Majesty sent eunuchs to me with gracious 
messages and presents of ginseng ^ and commanded that I 
should make all haste to recover and resume my duties. 

" But even the beneficent protection of your Majesty has 
failed to avert from me the last ravages of illness. Repeated 
attacks of asthma, with increasing difficulty in breathing, 
have now brought me to the last stage of weakness and the 
very point of death. With my last breath I now entreat 
your Majesty vigorously to continue in the introduction of 
reforms, so that gradually our Middle Kingdom may attain 
to a condition as prosperous as that of the great States of 
Europe and Japan. During my tenure of the office of 
Grand Councillor I have seen many men appointed to 
offices for which they were by no means fitted ; herein lies 
a source of weakness, but above all it is necessary that a 
radical change should be made in the selection of District 
Magistrates and in the methods by which taxation is levied 
and collected. It were well if the good example of economy 
which your Majesty is setting were more generally fol- 

1 Ginseng, the specific remedy of the Chinese pharmacopoeia for debility, 
supposed to possess certain magical qualities when grown in shapes resem- 
bling the human form or parts thereof. The best kind, supplied as tribute 
to the Thi'one, grows wild in Manchuria and Corea. 

441 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

lowed. In the seclusion of the Palace it is impossible for 
your Majesty to know the truth as to the condition of your 
subjects, and were it not for the prohibitive cost of trans- 
porting your enormous retinues, I should advise that the 
Throne should make regular tours of inspection in various 
parts of the Empire. His Majesty Ch'ien-I^ung made 
several such tours, and among the wise sovereigns of ancient 
times the custom was regularly observed. At this moment 
my mind is becoming confused ; I can say no more. Humbly 
do I pray that your Majesty's fame may continue to grow, 
and that all my good wishes on your Majesty's behalf may 
be fulfilled. Then, even though I die, yet shall I live. 

" I have dictated this, my valedictory Memorial, to my 
adopted son, Liang Ku'ei, for transmission to your Majesty, 
in temporary residence at Pao-ting fu. Though conscious of 
its numerous shortcomings, for which I beg forgiveness, I 
reverently entreat your Majesty to peruse it. Prostrate 
before the Throne, with my dying breath, I, Jung Lu, now 
conclude my Memorial. 

" {Dated the 10th April, 1903.)" 



442 



XXVI 

HER MAJESTY'S LAST DAYS. 

In the summer of 1908 Tzu Hsi's generally robust health 
showed signs of failing, a fact which is recorded in her 
valedictory Decree, and one of no small importance in con- 
sidering the coincident fact of the illness of the Emperor. 
Of the causes and manner of the latter's death, nothing will 
ever be definitely known ; they lie buried with many 
another secret of the Forbidden City, in the hearts of 
Li Lien-ying and his immediate satellites. Even among 
the higher officials, Manchu and Chinese, of the capital, 
opinions differ, and many conflicting theories are current to 
account for the remarkable coincidence of the death of 
Tzu Hsi and her unhappy nephew on successive days. 
For those who seek it there is no lack of circum- 
stantial evidence to justify the conclusion that the long- 
threatened Emperor was " removed " by the reactionaries, 
headed by the chief eunuch, who had only too good cause 
to fear his unfettered authority on the Throne. At the same 
time it is conceivably possible that many of the plots and 
proceedings of the Summer Palace at that time might have 
been unknown to Tzu Hsi, and that she was purposely kept in 
ignorance by those who foresaw the possibility of her early 
death and took their precautions accordingly, after the 
Oriental manner. Indeed, in the light of much trustworthy 
evidence of eye-witnesses, this seems a rational explanation 

443 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

of events to which any solution by theories of coincidence 
is evidently difficult. Most of the following account of Her 
Majesty's last days is derived from the statements of two 
high officials, one Manchu and the other Chinese, who 
were at that time on duty with the Court. Their testimony 
and their conclusions coincide, on the whole, with those of 
the best-informed and most reliable Chinese newspapers, 
whose news from the capital is also generally from official 
sources. We accept them, naturally, with all reserve, yet 
with an inchnation to give the Empress Dowager, on this 
occasion, the benefit of their good opinions and our own 
doubts. The simultaneous deaths may possibly have been 
due to natural causes, but it is to be observed by the most 
sympathetic critic, that the account given by Her Majesty's 
loyal servants of her behaviour immediately after the 
Emperor's death, is by no means suggestive of sorrow, but 
rather of relief. 

It was in the previous autumn that the Emperor became 
very ill, so much so that he was gradually compelled during 
the last year of his life to desist from performance of the 
usual sacrifices, which entail no small expenditure of physical 
energy through their genuflections and continual prostrations. 
The impression gradually gained ground that His Majesty 
was not likely to live much longer, and it was remarked, and 
remembered as a significant fact, that the Old Buddha had 
some time before given orders for the engagement of special 
wet-nurses for the infant son of Prince Ch'un, born in 
February, 1906. It was understood that these orders 
implied the selection of this infant Prince to succeed Kuang- 
Hsii, but although many attempts were made to induce her 
to declare herself on this subject, she declined to do so 
on the ground that her previous experience had been unlucky, 
that her selections had been the cause of much misunder- 
standing, and that, moreover, it was a house-law of the 
Dynasty that the heir to the throne could only be lawfully 
selected when the sovereign was in extremis a rule which 

444 



HER MAJESTY'S LAST DAYS 

she had completely disregarded in the nomination of Prince 
Tuan's son in 1900.1 

In this connection, there is every reason to believe that 
Tzii Hsi's superstitious nature, and the memory of the 
prophecies of woe uttered by the Censor Wu K'o-tu at 
the time of his protesting suicide, had undoubtedly led 
her to regret the violation of the sacred laws of succession 
which she committed in selecting Kuang-Hsii for the 
Throne. On more than one occasion in recent years she had 
endeavoured to propitiate the shade of the departed Censor, 
and public opinion, by conferring upon him posthumous 
honours. Towards the end of her reign, after the humili- 
ations inflicted on China in successive wars by France, 
Japan and the coahtion of the Allies, she was frequently 
heard to express remorse at having been led into courses 
of error which had brought down upon her the wrath of 
Heaven. In 1888, when the Temple of Heaven was 
struck by Hghtning, and again, when the chief gate of the 
Forbidden City took fire and was destroyed, she interpreted 
these events as marks of the Supreme Being's disapproval of 
her actions. The Emperor's subsequent conspiracy with 
K'ang Yu-wei and his associates of 1898, became in her 
eyes another judgment and visitation of Heaven. It may 
therefore reasonably be assumed that when the Boxer 
Princes persuaded her of the efficacy of their magic arts 
and of their ability to drive the foreigner into the sea, she 
seized upon the hope thus offered as a means of regaining 
the favour of the gods and atoning for past errors. Although 
in selecting the son of Prince Tuan to be heir to her son, 
the Emperor T'ung-Chih (thus passing over Kuang-Hsii), 
she had once more violated the house-laws of the Dynasty, 
there is no doubt that she took her risks in the certain 
hope that further prestige must accrue to her house and 
to herself, by the fact that the boy Emperor's father, next to 

1 This house-law was made by the Emperor Ch'ien Lung to prevent his 
Court officials from intriguing for the favour of the Heir Apparent. 

445 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

herself in power, would be hailed by the Chinese people as 
the Heaven-sent deliverer, the conqueror of the hated 
barbarian, and the saviour of his country. In other words, 
recognising that the mistakes she had committed had 
seriously injured her in the eyes of the nation, she deter- 
mined to endeavour to retrieve them by one last desperate 
throw. Later, after the return from exile, when she 
realised that this heroic venture had been as misguided 
in its inception as any of her former misdeeds, she showed 
her splendid courage and resource by a swift volte-face 
in the adoption of those very reform measures which she 
had formerly opposed, and by annulling the appointment 
of Prince Tuan's son as Heir to the Throne. She thus cut 
herself adrift from all connection with the Boxer leaders 
as completely and unhesitatingly as she wiped out from 
the annals of her reign all reference to the Edicts which 
she had issued in their favour. The present-day result 
brought about by this change of policy, and of the succession 
of Prince Chun's infant son to the Throne, has been to 
establish more firmly than ever that junior branch of the 
Imperial family. It is now believed, if not accepted, at 
Court, that the first Prince Ch'un, the father of Kuang-Hsii 
and grandfather of the present sovereign, will eventually be 
canonised with the title of " Ti " or Emperor, which would 
practically make him, by posthumous right, the founder of a 
new Dynastic branch. The problem of the direct succession, 
even in Chinese eyes, is not simple, and it was generally 
supposed {e.g. by the Times correspondent at Peking 
in October 1908) that the Empress Dowager would nomi- 
nate Prince P'u Lun to succeed Kuang-Hsii, thus restoring 
the succession to the senior branch of the family. This 
would certainly have appealed to orthodox and literary 
officials throughout the Empire, and, as a means of appeasing 
the distressed ghost of the protesting Censor, would have 
been more effective than the course she actually adopted. 
Doctor morrison, discussing this question of the succession 

446 



HER MAJESTY'S LAST DAYS 

before the event, expressed the general opinion that the 
appointment of another infant to succeed the Emperor 
Kuang-Hsii (involving another long Regency) would be 
fraught with great danger to the Dynasty. There is no 
doubt that the present situation, lacking that strong hand 
which for half a century has held together the chaotic fabric 
of China's Government, suffers from the fact that for many 
years to come the supreme authority must remain in the 
hands of a Regent, and a Regent whose position is ah initio 
undermined by the powerful influences brought to bear 
by the senior branch of the Imperial Clan. Tzu Hsi was 
fully aware of the position which would be created, or rather 
prolonged, by the selection of Prince Ch'un's son, and for 
this reason, no doubt, the selection of Kuang-Hsii's successor 
was postponed until the very day of her death. When, 
at last, confronted by the imperative necessity for action, 
she had to make up her mind, there were two things that 
chiefly weighed with her. These were, firstly, the promise 
that she had made to Jung Lu, and, secondly, her uncon- 
cealed dislike for Prince Ch'ing, who had made himself 
the chief spokesman for the claims of Prince P'u Lun. It 
was also only natural that she should wish to leave to her 
favourite niece (the Consort of Kuang-Hsii) the title and 
power of Empress Dowager, if only in reward for years 
of faithful and loyal service to herself. In other words, 
the claims of the human equation and her own inclinations 
outweighed, unto the end, the claims of orthodox tradition 
and the qualms of her conscience. 

Throughout the winter of 1907 and the following spring, 
the Empress enjoyed her usual vigorous health. In April 
she went, as usual, to the Summer Palace, where she 
remained all through the hot season. With the heat, 
however, came a recurrence of her dysenteric trouble and 
in August she had a slight stroke of paralysis, as the result of 
which her face, hitherto remarkably youthful for a woman of 
seventy, took on a drawn and tired appearance. In other 

447 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

respects her health seemed fairly good ; certainly her vigour 
of speech remained unimpaired, and she continued to devote 
unremitting attention to affairs of State. She was wont 
frequently to declare her ambition of attaining to the same 
age as Queen Victoria, a ruler for whom she professed the 
greatest admiration ; she would say that she could trace, in 
the features of the English Queen, lines of longevity similar 
to those in her own. The Taoist Abbot, Kao, whom she 
used to receive in frequent audiences, and who possessed 
considerable influence over her, had prophesied that she 
would live longer than any former Empress of the Dynasty ; 
but his prophecy was not fulfilled, for she died younger than 
three of her predecessors. 

In the summer of 1908 the Old Buddha took a keen 
interest in the impending visit of the Dalai I^ama, which 
had been arranged for the autumn. The chief eunuch, Li, 
begged her to cancel this visitation on the ground that it 
was notoriously unlucky for the " Living Buddha " and the 
Son of Heaven to be resident in one city at the same time. 
Either the priest or the sovereign would surely die, he said.^ 
To this Tzu Hsi replied that she had long since decided in 
her mind that the Emperor's illness was incurable, and she 
saw no reason, therefore, to stop the coming of the Dalai 
Lama. Nevertheless, in July, she summoned certain 
Chinese physicians, educated abroad, to attend His Majesty, 
who had become greatly emaciated and very weak. They 
reported that he was suffering from Bright 's disease. Their 
examination of the august patient and their diagnosis of his 
symptoms were necessarily perfunctory, inasmuch as 
etiquette prevented the application of the proper tests, but 
they professed to have verified the fact that the action of 
the heart was very weak. On the other hand, writers in the 
newspapers of the south did not hesitate to assert that the 

1 The chief eunuch in reality objected to the Buddhist pontiff on his own 
account, for the Lama's exactions from the superstitious would naturally 
diminish his own opportunities. 

448 



HER MAJESTY'S LAST DAYS 

whole medical performance was a farce and that the death of 
the Emperor would undoubtedly take place so soon as the 
powers about the Throne had made up their minds that the 
Empress Dowager was not likely to live much longer. 

According to the general consensus of opinion in the 
capital, the relations between the Old Buddha and His 
Majesty were not unfriendly at this period. It was said 
that shortly before his illness became acute the Empress 
Dowager had encouraged him to take a more active part in 
aiFairs of State, and to select candidates for certain high 
offices : she certainly renewed the practice of showing him 
Decrees for the formality of his concurrence When the"^ 
reformer Wang Chao returned from flight, and gave 
himself up to the police, she, who had vowed the death of 
this man in 1898, invited His Majesty to decide what 
punishment should now be inflicted upon him. The 
Emperor, after long reflection, suggested that his life be 
spared. " By all means," replied the Old Buddha, " I had 
fully intended to forgive him, but desired to hear your 
opinion. Full well I know your sincere hatred of fellows 
like K'ang Yu-wei and his associates, and I was afraid, 
therefore, that you might insist on the immediate decapi- 
tation of Wang Chao." She evidently believed that she 
had completely eradicated from His Majesty's mind all^ 
opposition to her wishes. 

As the Emperor's health grew worse, the eunuchs were 
instructed not to keep him waiting when calling upon the 
Empress Dowager and he was also excused at the meetings 
of the Grand Council from awaiting her arrival and 
departure on his knees. A Manchu holding a high position 
at Court testifies to the truth of the following incident. 
One morning, after perusal of a Censor's Memorial, which 
contained several inaccurate statements, His Majesty 
observed to the Grand Council, " How little of truth there 
is in common rumour. For instance, I know myself to be 
really ill, yet here it is denied that there is anything the 

449 G G 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

matter with me." The Empress Dowager here broke in : 
— " Who has dared to utter such falsehoods ? If caught, he 
will certainly be beheaded." Kuang-Hsii then proceeded to 
say : — " I am really getting weaker every day, and do not 
see my way to performing the necessary ceremonies on the 
occasion of Your Majesty's approaching birthday." Com- 
passionately the Old Buddha replied : " It is more important 
to me that you should recover your health than that you 
should knock your head on the ground in my honour." The 
Emperor fell on liis knees to thank her for these gracious 
words, but collapsed in a fainting fit. Prince Ch'ing there- 
upon advised that a certain doctor, Chii Yung-chiu, trained 
in Europe, should be called in, but his advice was not 
followed till later. On the following day His Majesty 
enquired of the Court physicians in attendance, whose 
medical training is the same as that which has been handed 
down since the days of the T'ang Dynasty, whether his 
disease was likely to be fatal. " The heart of your 
Emperor is greatly disturbed," said he. Dr. Lu Yung-pin 
replied : — " There is nothing in Your Majesty's present 
condition to indicate any mortal disease. We beseech Your 
Majesty to be calm : it is for us, your servants, to be 
perturbed in spirit." 

After Tzii Hsi's stroke of paralysis, the wildest rumours 
were circulated as to her condition, so much so that, realising 
the excited state of provincial opinion, and its relation to 
the question of the Constitution which was to have been 
granted. Her Majesty decided to carry out without further 
delay the promise she made in 1906. On the 1st of the 8th 
Moon, she therefore promulgated a Decree, showing signs of 
the same spirit of lofty statesmanship as was displayed by 
the rulers of Japan, and evidently based on their example, 
whereby it was promised that a constitutional form of 
government would be completely established within a period 
of nine years. At the same time it was decreed that every 
branch of the government should institute the changes 

450 



HEU MAJESTY'S LAST DAYS 

necessary to facilitate the introduction of the new dispensa- 
tion. On issuing this Decree she expressed her hope of 
Uving to witness the convening of the first Chinese Parha- 
Hient, and added that if Prince Tuan's son had proved 
himself worthy, and had remained Heir Apparent, he would 
by now have been of age to carry on the government after 
the Emperor's death. Age was creeping upon her, and she 
would be glad to retire to the Summer Palace for her 
declining years. As long as matters remained in their 
present state, it w^ould be necessary to refer important 
questions for her decision, but she greatly wished that the 
period of her Regency should not be indefinitely prolonged. 

In September occurred the fiftieth birthday of the 
ex- Viceroy of Chihli Yiian Shih-k'ai, while the Court was 
still in residence at the Summer Palace. The Old Buddha 
showered costly gifts upon her trusted Minister, and almost 
every high official in Peking attended the birthday ceremonies 
to present congratulations and gifts. Conspicuous by his 
absence, however, was the Emperor's brother. Prince Ch'un 
(the present Regent), who had applied for short leave in 
order to avoid being present, and who offered no presents. 

A significant incident occurred in connection with the 
birthday ceremonies. Among the many complimentary 
scrolls, presented by friends and hanging on the walls, were 
a pair which attracted much attention, until they were 
hurriedly removed. One contained the following inscrip- 
tion : — " 5th day of the 8th Moon of the Wu Shen year " 
(this was the date of the crisis of the coup d'etat when Yiian 
Shih-k'ai warned Jung Lu of the plot, and thus brought 
about the practical dethronement of the Emperor), and on 
the other were the words : — " May the Emperor live ten 
thousand years ! May Your Excellency live ten thousand 
years." 

The words " luan sui," meaning " ten thousand years," are 
not applicable to any subject of the Throne, and the inner 
meaning of these words was, therefore, interpreted to be a 

451 G G 2 



CHINA UNDER THE EMPRESS DOWAGER 

charge against Yiian of conspiring for the Throne. It was 
clear that some enemy had sent the scrolls as a reminder of 
Yiian's betrayal of his Sovereign ten years before, and that 
they had been hung up either as the result of connivance or 
carelessness on the part of Yiian's people. Four months 
later, when the great ex- Viceroy fell, this incident was 
remembered and inevitably connected with Prince Chun's 
non-appearance at the birthday ceremonies. 

In September, the Dalai Lama reached Peking, but owing 
to a dispute on certain details of ceremonial, his audience 
was postponed. It was finally arranged that the Pontiff 
should kowtow to the Throne, and that the Emperor should 
then rise from his seat and invite the Lama to sit beside 
him on a cane couch. This ceremonial was most reluctantly 
accepted, and only after much discussion, by the Dalai 
Lama, who considered his dignity seriously injured by having 
to kowtow. He had brought with him much tribute, and 
was therefore the more disappointed at the Old Buddha's 
failure to show him the marks of respect which he had 
expected. His audience was held early in October, when Her 
Majesty requested him to offer up prayers regularly for her 
long life and prosperity. 

In October, the foreign Ministers were also received at 
the Summer Palace, and on the 20th of that month the 
Court returned to the Lake Palace for the winter. On this, 
her last State progress, the Empress Dowager approached 
the city as usual in her State barge, by the canal which joins 
the Summer Palace Lake with the waters of the Winter 
Palace, proceeding in it as far. as the Temple of Imperial 
Longevity, which is situated on the banks of this canal. It 
was observed that as she left the precincts of the Summer 
Palace she gazed l